Adam Kurtz


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Earlier this year, I got a friend request on Facebook from a super close friend of my good friend & surrogate-kid-sister Tuesday Bassen (who I interviewed here). His name is Adam Kurtz and he lives in New York. We had 18 friends in common and I noticed he is a fellow illustrator, so I hit “accept.”

In the months that have passed, I’ve gotten to know Adam through Facebook and Instagram, and I’ve fallen head over heals in love — not just with his wit and wisdom — but with his work in general. A few weeks ago, Adam sent me a package containing a bunch of his amazing products which you can see here. I then started reading his fantastic series on the Life & Business section of my friend Grace’s blog Design*Sponge and my crush got even more serious. Last week I sat down virtually with Adam and asked him about his childhood, his work and his voice as an artist. I present to you Adam J. Kurtz, the latest inductee in my Interviews with People I Admire series!


Lisa: Adam, I LOVE YOUR WORK! Tell us about you. Where did you grow up and what was your path to becoming an artist and designer?

Adam: Thank you, Lisa! That’s high praise coming from you (insert incoherent art crush rambling here, then a pause where I regain my dignity). I grew up in Toronto and have always been the “creative child,” which is code for “everyone always bought me art supplies for my birthday.” We moved a few times and I didn’t have a ton of friends in my early teens so I learned basic coding and built fan sites for fun. It was making and exploring those networks of people, just before social media was a thing, that kept me entertained. So I figured I should study graphic design in college, and that’s kind of how it went! Design is so much about organizing other people’s words and images in useful structures, and eventually I decided I wanted to make work that used my own voice. I like to think that’s the difference between art and design, really. Still, my art is all about functional objects. It’s a balloon, it’s a postcard, it’s a pin. It serves a tactile purpose beyond being nice to look at or carrying a message.


Lisa: One of the reasons I love you & your work is that you tell the truth. Also, you manage to be really funny in your honesty without being overly sarcastic or cutting or mean. Tell us about your “voice” —  and how you express it, not just your work, but also your presence on social media.

Adam: That’s my real voice! I’m kind of an idiot, lots of dad jokes and backhanded compliments. Life is big and scary, but small jokes and those shared experiences are what connects us to each other and makes it okay. The nice thing about being myself full-time (as opposed to making work under a studio of another name) as that I can be that person without worrying about being “off brand.” While there’s a legal difference between Adam J. Kurtz the human and ADAMJK the brand, it’s all still me.


Lisa: Your work is really conducive to putting on product and you make some amazing product. Tell us what it is about having your work on pins and pennants and balloons and shirts that makes you happy.

Adam: There is something very special about taking a mood or feeling out of your head and putting on a tangible object instead of a tweet or status update. There are a lot of people posting about feeling sad or alone. There are not a lot of people communicating that with a hopeful keychain. For me, it’s therapeutic to say what I need to say this way.

My “ADAMJK GIFT SHOP” is all about exploring what a “gift” really is. Why do we buy small trinkets to begin with? Sometimes we want to remember a place we were. Sometimes we see something that reminds us of someone we love. Sometimes we are feeling sad or happy and want to commemorate that feeling with an impulse buy. Other times we needed to get someone a present because of some holiday or occasion and then we “accidentally” keep it for ourselves. The items I make are simple, and generally inexpensive. I want their value to be defined by how they are selected and gifted to ourselves or others.

I’m not a fine artist, but I don’t consider myself a store either. I am an artist who wants people to easily own something they love. If I was wearing my pretentious glasses right now I’d tell you they’re “artist multiples” but I am wearing contacts today.


Lisa: Tell us about your new spots on Design*Sponge. I love them!! How did that come about and how much do you love working with Grace?

Adam: Writing for Design*Sponge has been so cool! Grace Bonney is a really smart and funny woman, and I wrote a guest post a long time ago thanks to another contributor, Sabrina Smelko. Grace and I became friends online, and I just kept thinking “wow, I totally agree with almost everything she has to say.” I guess it was mutual enough, because she suggested a monthly column.

I don’t consider myself a true writer (whatever that means????) but it’s been really nice to share some perspective in a fun and maybe unusual way. The response has been so great and I am happy to be a part of such a fantastic blog. Now I’m just embarrassing myself. I love you, Grace!!!!! Okay bye.


Lisa: Tell us about your book 1 Page at a Time. What’s it about?

Adam: 1 Page at a Time is a goofy little daily journal that asks you to write, draw, reflect, or act every day. Some pages are childish, some are straightforward, and some get weird or dark. The hope is that at the end of the year you have a time capsule of who you were, and you can see how far you’ve gone. It’s loosely based on my annual Unsolicited Advice weekly planners that I self-publish. An editor at Penguin found it on Kickstarter in 2013 and we met for coffee and it just… happened? It still blows my mind, and that was like three years ago.


There are a lot of journals out there. At first, many people compare 1 Page at a Time to Wreck This Journal, which I totally understand (and we share an editor). Then they’ll come back and be like “hey actually it’s kind of the opposite? I want to save this forever!” The title isn’t even subtle at all – this is totally about making it through, making it yourself, and coming out the other side. It can mark the beginning of a new year, a new journey, or a fresh start. Like a lot of what I make, I try to allude to mental health ideas without being too cheesy or clinical. This is a fun book, but it’s also a book that fucking gets it, because I fucking get it.

A fun part of the book is the hashtag throughout. People all over the world are sharing their pages online in several languages. Though the book reminds you that life is a solo journey and being alone with your thoughts shouldn’t be terrifying, we are also all alone together. My secret hope is that two strangers will find each other through their posted pages. What if people across the world fell in love because their outlook on life totally overlaps? What if two people got married????? Ahhhhhhhh!!!


Lisa: And you have another book coming out? Can you give us an idea about what it’s about and when it will come out?

Adam: I do! This first book has done well enough that Penguin is like “okay please make another book, we get it, you’re weird, that’s cool.” It will still have interactive elements, but it’s not exactly a journal either. It’s even more me than the first book. It’s darker, it’s more hopeful, it’s more honest, and I really want people to get it and be like “what the hell is this?” and then flip through and feel like they’ve found exactly what they needed in that moment. It’s hard for me to explain exactly what I’m trying to create because I’m still in the middle of it all.


Lisa: What’s the most fun or wacky illustration job you’ve ever done for a client?

Adam: Earlier this month I got to draw a ton of adderall, that was pretty great! I also do the menus for my local coffee shop in exchange for free drinks. It’s probably the best paying gig I’ve ever had.


Lisa: What kind of stuff makes you want to get out bed in the morning?

Adam: Almost nothing. Bed is the best.

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Lisa: Where can we find you on the Internets?

Adam: I’m @ADAMJK on all the good stuff!

Lisa: Thank you Adam!! Great having you on the blog today!

Friends, I’ll be back SATURDAY. Yes, Saturday! Confusing, I know, right? I don’t normally blog on the weekends, but I’m having a Small Business Saturday Sale starting Saturday so I’ll be posting some new items in my shop plus a discount code. So stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, have a happy Thanksgiving!


Janine Vangool: The Typewriter



{Janine’s latest book: The Typewriter, 2015}

Waaaaay back in 2006, I became acquainted with a woman named Janine Vangool. She owned a small gallery, shop and graphic design studio in Calgary, Alberta, Canada called UPPERCASE. She wrote to me to ask me if I’d be interested in participating in a show in her gallery. I was a brand new artist at the time, and so of course I was thrilled she even noticed my work! And so began our relationship as colleagues and friends that continues today. You might be familiar with UPPERCASE because for the last six years, Janine has been producing one of the most beautiful magazines on the planet — UPPERCASE Magazine. She’s also the designer & publisher of a number of books, including my very first book: A Collection a Day, which came out in 2011.

I have long admired Janine’s design aesthetic and generosity, but what I think bonds us more than anything is that we are both collectors. We love old stuff. It’s what brought us together to collaborate on A Collection a Day, and it’s what brings us together today for this interview. Janine has just published one of the most gorgeous books I’ve ever laid my eyes on — and it’s all about one of her greatest passions: The Typewriter. Janine makes beautiful books, but this is by far her tour de force. It’s huge, chock full of hundreds of stunning images and historical information, and beautifully laid out and organized. If you love typewriters, this book is for you.

Today in my Interviews with People I Admire series, I present Janine Vangool!


{photo credit Heather Saitz}

Lisa: Janine, I am so happy to feature your new book on my blog today. Tell my readers about your publishing company UPPERCASE. You mostly work on publishing a quarterly magazine since 2009, but you’ve also published several books, including this new one. Tell us about how and why you started UPPERCASE.

Janine: I actually started publishing books before I launched the magazine. I had an art gallery and shop, called UPPERCASE gallery books & paper goods, that opened in 2005. I hosted exhibitions in the front of the space, sold other publisher’s books on art and design and also experimented in selling my own products such as greeting cards, sewn goods and handmade notebooks. In the back of the space I did my freelance graphic design for clients. After a while, I enjoyed the challenge of making and selling my own wares more than working for clients, so I began to focus on UPPERCASE. The first books I published were in conjunction with gallery exhibitions.

Old School was one of the early books and exhibitions. Inspired by the aesthetics of old fashioned elementary school, dozens of artists created artwork on the theme. I was happy to have your work in that show! All the artwork was published in a small companion book.

Another successful project was Work/Life, a directory of illustration that has evolved into a series of three books and counting.

I loved publishing so much that a magazine seemed like great way to keep the ideas flowing. UPPERCASE launched in 2009. The following year I had my son and closed the physical store to concentrate on the magazine and publishing projects versus retail.


Lisa: UPPERCASE has grown into one of the most respected independent magazines in the world. In the age of online magazines, why do people love to get, hold & look at UPPERCASE? What do you think sets UPPERCASE apart from other print magazines?

Janine: Thanks, Lisa! It is sort of strange to think about how much the magazine has evolved since 2009. It has surpassed my initial intentions and expectations in every way. It is such a privilege to still be publishing it nearly seven years on.

The one thing that hasn’t changed through it all is my love of print and so I’m always investing back into the magazine with excellent paper, fun printed features like foils, embossing, special glued-on items like fabric… I’ve also held steadfast to my belief that UPPERCASE will not ever be a digital magazine. Where other magazine might try to do it all with print, apps, digital versions, etc, I like to concentrate on what I love and know the best: ink on paper. If you’re the kind of person who strokes the paper and loves the smell of ink, then UPPERCASE is made for you!


Lisa: Let’s talk about your new book, The Typewriter. When we first met online back in the day, one of the things that connected us was our mutual love of collecting old, ubiquitous things. You collect many things, but one of your most famous collections are typewriters and typewriter-related things. What lead to this book and why did it feel like an important book for you to make?

Janine: I could credit our collaboration on A Collection a Day for leading me down the collecting path a bit more! I have always loved typewriters, but the machines themselves are so expensive and heavy and take up so much room. But like you, I love to collect things, so I switched my focus to the ephemera of typewriters and typewriting. So other than a collection of prettily coloured Royals from the mid-fifties, my typewriter collection is made of brochures, ads, tins and various small artifacts.

To justify my obsession with collecting these things, I decided to turn it into a book. These artifacts are so intriguing, they really do tell a great story through design and copywriting, about the evolution of modern communications, women in the workplace and of graphic design and advertising as professions, too.

The history of the machine is quite complex and I’m by no means a historian or academic, so The Typewriter book is intended to be a beautiful collection of notable graphics telling its story of the past century and a half.


Lisa: The book is filled with images and information about vintage typewriters. Tell us about the amount of research and image sourcing you had to do for the book. What was the process like? How long did it take?

Janine: Early on, I was collecting things simply because I like the way they looked. Once I decided to make a book and had an outline of topics, I searched out advertisements and things that could tell the story more completely. It was many many hours on eBay and online searches. The majority of what is in the book are things that I have collected, with the exception of some of the machines and more expensive things that are sources from other collectors.

Though collecting things began years prior, the book itself was a three year project that began with a crowdsourcing campaign. Thanks to hundreds of kind folks, I was able to raise enough preorders to fund the print run of the book.


Lisa: The book is divided by era. Which typewriter era is your favorite & why?

Janine: I enjoy the 50s, when colourful machines were sold in pink, turquoise, teal and mint. I’m still looking for a sunbeam yellow Royal to complete my collection! I love the glamour and style of that era. My dad also restores vintage cars from the 50s, so growing up I was influenced by that era as well.


Lisa: Inquiring minds want to know: how many typewriters do you own? Do you use any of them? How easy or difficult is it to find parts and ribbon for them these days?

Janine: I currently have a dozen machines, but some of those are on loan for the book project and I am just their current caretaker. I use my red Royal and turquoise Royal; they continue to work well. Fortunately, I haven’t had to do any major repairs and ribbons are available from online sellers.


Lisa: If someone is interested in purchasing your book or subscribing to UPPERCASE, where should they go?

Janine: I have a website just about The Typewriter, where folks can see previews of the book and see some of the artifacts as well. My various books, back issues and subscriptions are also available here.

Lisa: Thank you, Janine!

Janine: Thank you, Lisa!


Have a great day, friends!


Lea Redmond: Knit the Sky




Hello friends and happy Tuesday! I am back from my trip to Spain and Portugal, and I am so excited today to share an interview with a really amazing artist and maker.

A few years ago when I was still living in San Francisco, I discovered the work of Lea Redmond (pronounced “Lee”). She was setting up one of her World’s Smallest Post Services at a local shop in San Francisco, and I popped in quickly to check it out. Lea became famous for her teeenneeee weeeneee letters (see below), hand scripted and sent through regular mail; periodically she would set up a live letter-making desk where she created the tiny letters specially for folks who passed by. Shortly after seeing Lea’s work for the first time, I got a surprise email from her asking if I wanted to hang out. A few weeks later, we got together to talk about our mutual love for art, crafts and books at a local pie shop. At that first meeting, Lea began telling me about a book she was beginning to concept — a book all about knitting from patterns that guide you through recording your experience (and not from a traditional knitting pattern). Think of it as a journal of your life, not with a pen and paper, but with knitting needles. That book, thousands of hours and hundreds of balls of yarn later, is finally with us! Knit the Sky: Cultivate Your Creativity with a Playful Way of Knitting was released recently by Storey Publishing. And it’s illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators. the amazing Lauren Nassef.

I sat down virtually with Lea recently to ask her all about her background, her new book and her approach to creativity. Lea is one of the cleverest & smartest women  I have ever met. I think you will enjoy her too, and so I present to you Lea Redmond in my Interviews with People I Admire series!


{Lea holding some of her tiny letters, which she creates with her own hands and a magnifying glass!}

Lisa: Lea, tell my readers a little bit you. Who are you? How did you get started as a maker, as a knitter? What are some of the things you have done before Knit the Sky?

Lea: I have loved making things since I was a wee one. As I grew up, the pinch pots and puffy paint t-shirts of elementary school turned into the wheel-thrown teapots and hand-knit sweaters of high school. And then I largely tucked away my art supplies as I fell in love with ideas at my little liberal arts college, and busied myself with books and writing. My mother was a Montessori preschool teacher and my dad a scuba diver. Combine those influences with some clay, yarn, Thoreau, and Heidegger, and I think that sums me up pretty good.

Back in 2008 I did a quirky art project called the World’s Smallest Post Service in which I set up my tiny post office (wooden roll-top doll desk and all!) around town and transcribed letters for passers-by. I would then send the itty-bitty missive to their recipient with a magnifying glass. To my surprise and delight, people really loved it! I wasn’t trying to start a business, but this project quickly turned into my creative studio, Leafcutter Designs, that offers all sorts of thoughtful objects and playful gifts like Seed Money, Recipe Dice, and Letters To My Future Self.


{Lea reading from her book Knit the Sky}

Lisa: Your new book Knit the Sky: Cultivate Creativity with a Playful Way of Knitting is different from any knitting book I’ve ever seen! Describe how this book is different from most (or any) knitting books out there and why it was an important book for you to make & put into the world.

Lea: My book offers a way of knitting that is full of adventure, stories, and personal meaning. It’s not instead of typical knitting patterns; it’s simply a compliment to them. The best way to explain is with examples. In one scarf project, you observe the weather and add one stripe per day in yarns that match the color of the sky out your window. In another project, you collect gumballs from machines around town, and the order in which they dispense determines the order of the stripe colors. In yet another, you knit a cowl in the spirit of the moon, which can then be worn to match the current moon phase.

Typically a knitting pattern provides step-by-step technical instructions, charts, and photographs that guide you to make a particular garment in a particular size. These patterns are wonderful, beautiful, and extremely helpful. Pattern design is tough work and I’m so glad there are great designers providing excellent technical guidance for all of us yarn lovers. Most of the playful concepts in my book work just fine with very simple garments, like garter stitch scarves or simple hats, or you can combine them with more challenging patterns by your favorite designers.


Lisa: How do you hope this book changes people’s experiences with knitting? Or elevates their experience of creativity in general?

Lea: What excites me most is the idea that knitters might read my book and be inspired to knit something that is infused with the unique details of his or her own life. Knitting in this way is almost like keeping a journal. It’s a chance to reflect on life, honor someone important to you, celebrate something, be curious about a place, etc. It’s of course lovely that we end up with a beautiful garment, but that’s almost beside the point for me. In the end, I’m most interested in the experience along the way—the adventure that is the process. (Though I will admit that I truly love that we get to keep a souvenir!)

And even thought Knit The Sky is full of ideas for knitting, I think folks can read it and apply this way of thinking—as well as the particular concepts in the book’s projects—to pretty much any medium of life. Read the book and knit a scarf, or maybe just read the book and plan a dinner party! This way of working goes across medium and—ha ha—the sky is the limit!


Lisa: What is your favorite project or set of exercises in the book and why?

Lea: The “Mood Ring” project is one of my favorites, probably because the mindfulness involved in making it has the potential to be extremely powerful. Inspired by those dime-store mood rings of childhood, you knit yourself a cowl that tracks your emotions for a month. Each color represents a group of emotions and then every day you take some time to reflect on your inner life and add a few colors to the cowl that match how you’ve been feeling that day. Since you can see the colors from previous days and weeks, reflecting on them might inspire you to change how you spend your time or how you react to various situations, thus affecting your future mood and stripe colors.


{The work of Illustrator Lauren Nassef}

Lisa: The illustrations are by Lauren Nassef and they are stunning (I am a huge fan of her work!). Why did you select her as your illustrator? What mood did you hope she would be able to capture?

Lea: I agree! I am overjoyed with Lauren’s illustrations for the book. I feel so lucky and grateful to share the pages with her. I was first drawn to Lauren because of her quirky, whimsical compositions. I want to live inside some of her drawings! She takes everyday objects and phenomena and adds a little twist that sparks curiosity, wonder, and delight. I also love her careful, intentional line work. The knitting projects in Knit The Sky are creative and playful, but they are also extremely thought out and full of intention. To me, Lauren’s work with pencil and brush embodies a similar sort of care.


{Illustration from Knit the Sky}

Lisa: How did you accumulate all the project ideas in the book? Were these ideas you’d been collecting and trying out over the course of years? Or did it happen more recently than that? Did you test them out first (either yourself or with others) to make sure they would work well?

Lea: I first posted my “sky scarf” pattern online back in 2008, so the book is really the slow accumulation of ideas since then, plus a big surge at the end! To dream up these projects, I basically just look around, then maybe read a book, and then look around some more. I find most of my creative inspiration in the details of everyday life—in noticing the extraordinariness of the ordinary. The projects in Knit The Sky are inevitably a reflection of my own life, which is why I included a section at the end about how to invent your own project based on your own life. I can’t wait to see what people dream up!

The projects in the book with trickier elements (like knitting hexagons or the butterfly pattern stitch) were tested by me and the folks at Storey Publishing before the book went to press. There are indeed a few full patterns included (for a basic hat, scarf, cowl, socks, etc.), but this knitting book is vastly less technical than most. My hope is that people mix the concepts with their favorite patterns, or even make up their own!


{from Knit the Sky}

Lisa: If people are interested in getting to know you and what you do better or in sharing or learning from you, where can people find you online or in real life? (this is where you get to talk about your newsletter, any online places, classes, events, etc!)

Lea: For Knit The Sky related news and events, find me at There, we have a calendar of book tour events and workshops I’m teaching. You can find yarn kits to go with some of the projects and can also sign up for the Knit The Sky newsletter. I post whatever I’m currently knitting on Instagram: @lea_redmond. You can find my playful goods and other creative studio work at, on IG: @Leafcutter and on Facebook:

Lisa: Thank you Lea for sharing your genius with us!

Hope everyone has a great week.


Scott Patt // Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.



{Scott Patt in his studio}

You may recall back in January of 2014 I wrote about a new daily year-long project started by artist and designer Scott Patt, called “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” Scott started that project in an effort to engage in a more meaningful and deliberate creative experience — one that captured his everyday thoughts and experiences. That project continued for the course of 2014 (he worked very hard not to abandon it, despite its intensity) and it ended up exploding not only into a life-changing experience for Scott but also a massive body of work, a book, a gallery show in New York, a short documentary, among with many other exciting things and new collaborations in the works. I caught up with Scott recently to do an in-depth interview with him about how the project grew and evolved, what he learned, and how it changed his life forever. Scott — and all of the ways he approaches his work — are hugely inspiring to me. I think they will be for you too. I am so honored to have him as my next Interview with People I Admire.

Without further ado, Scott Patt.

BSF original paintings collage

Lisa: Scott, first tell us about the daily project you started in 2014 called “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” What is it and how did it come to be? How many pieces did you end up making in the collection? Where did you post them? What was the reaction to the project over time?

Scott: Before “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” was bigger, smaller or even funnier the project began as a desire to sketch, ideate and work more consistently. I needed a way to challenge the art that I was making to be more meaningful and have an outlet that would easily allow me to incorporate the everyday thoughts, ironies, emotions, and experiences that I often ignored because I was too busy. I wanted a vehicle that was less perfect and with less pretense to allow the work to become an extension of my natural self. Work that would connect more broadly and deeply to others because of its honesty about the way we live and the things we all experience on any given day.

The result is “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” a year-long painting-a-day project that documents our shared life experiences by exploring everyday concepts such as purpose, love, faith, ego, relationships, sex, dependency, and genuine (but hard-earned) happiness. Every day in 2014, I ideated, sketched and painted an original conceptual painting. A new piece was virtually exhibited each morning via social media and 100 Limited Edition archival prints were made available for sale on Over the 365 days, 369 paintings were created from a palette of 8 colors and thousands of ideas were conceived in over 800 pages of 7 sketchbooks. Thousands of votes were cast and hundreds of prints were sold. The culmination of this massive body of work was a socially curated physical exhibition at Winston Wächter Fine Art in NYC informed via “likes,” print purchases and favorites from throughout the year-long project.

you waving at me

Lisa: Tell us about your sketches. Did you sketch out every idea in your sketchbook before taking them to final in the project? Or did you just go for it sometimes? What was the ideation process like and how did you decide if something would “work” or not?

Scott: Most of my gallery artwork prior “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” had evolved into painstaking Finish Fetish meets Conceptual Art. My work was super-clean, glossy, highly produced and pristine. Out of self-preservation I desired a project and process less precious and raw. I just wanted to make work without the usual layers of production involved. That being said, I’m a thinker (I mean over-thinker). I love to mull things over and explore the relationships between the visual and the verbal of a well-thought-out or even ridiculous idea. The sketchbooks of these explorations became ritualistic visual diaries prospecting daily happenings via spontaneous yet obsessive color studies, compositions, alliterations and notes on their way to becoming paintings.

Every morning I would wake up, and write in my journal documenting events, ideas and feelings from the previous day. I wouldn’t overthink it. I would just write and whatever or wherever it went is what it was. I also began taking obsessive notes about things and observations that would catch my attention. In the afternoon I would come back to my writings and highlight words or phrases that would trigger a mental image or an idea. Then for the next 2-3 hours I would sketch on those concepts playing with images and/or typography until I reached something that really made me smile or things hit a dead-end. I would often draw in public places because working in solitude every day would prove to be a lonely endeavor. More importantly sketching among others was incredibly inspirational and could be highly entertaining. I liked to go down to the harbor, sit outside with my sketchbooks and eavesdrop on the tourists as they talked about their lives. Overhearing the conversations of the recently reinvigorated can lend great perspective to the pettiness, humor and irony within our own lives as well as reinforce the universality of our concerns and struggles. And it wasn’t a bad way to inspire a piece or two.

lover loving lovers love

Having to ideate, sketch, paint, post and commercialize a piece a day was exhilarating and exhausting. Even though I knew there were pieces that “worked”, trying to choose a piece each night to paint, my ego, self doubt and fear of failure would conspire towards safety and indecision. Even at piece #364 I remembered laughing out loud because it never got easier. Every evening after sketching I would take photographs of the concepts I liked best to help me physically edit away from the cacophony of the sketchbooks. This was particularly helpful in sorting through the best of the best ideas as the project progressed and hundreds of pages of sketches piled up. There were many a night that I would send texts of sketches to friends or sit with my wife Lisa to go through the sketches to help me pick a piece for the next day. The repetition and pace of the project would leave me exhausted and paralyze my decision-making. No matter how tired I was though it was always fun to see which sketches would make her laugh out loud or which pieces friends would respond to (or not). I would not have made it through “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier” had it not been for the tireless support of my wife and my good friends.

I also liked to select sketches for paintings based on the day of the week. Having worked in the corporate world for 20+ years, every day has always seemed to have a particular feeling attached to it. Monday’s always felt like a ball buster so I’d post something to give others a good push or laugh to get the week going. Wednesdays were usually about getting over the proverbial “hump”. Fridays required a little something to instill the spirit of the weekend, where as a Saturday and Sunday were more contemplative. I always liked the idea of some random guy in an office flipping through their Instagram and making them laugh or inspiring them to think a little differently about their day.

sun shade shadow

Lisa: Thank you for that description of your process. I think sometimes people assume artists just sit down and draw whatever is on their brain. But it’s usually so much more than that, and you are evidence of that. I love that you share your documentation too. Let’s talk about your background. You are a graphic designer and artist, both. Talk about the intersection of graphic design and your own personal “artistry” & sense of humor in the works in this collection.

Scott: I’ve had a pretty rich experience regarding the intersection between art, design and life. I went to school with the intention of becoming a doctor and became a graphic designer (insert joke here). My career evolved into product design, specifically footwear design while I was at Nike and concurrent to it all I’ve been a visual artist. For me, the long and short of how they all relate (or not) is that Art is not Design and Design is not Art but they share similarities. Design, whether it’s in the form of Advertising, Graphic Design or Product Design is about solving problems. A great Design solution should help make your life better. Similar but different, Art can solve problems by provoking questions and exploring everyday issues from the physical and social to the psychological. In both realms there are many ways to arrive at a solution but that’s where Art and Design part ways. Design needs to work to be successful and for Art what “works” can be relative. That’s the magic.

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{observers interacting with Scott’s larger pieces at his culminating show}

“Bigger. Smaller. Funnier” wasn’t and still isn’t concerned about whether it’s Art or Design but more importantly about connectivity. Life can be a lonely endeavor. What better than to connect to others who are like-minded and share in the experience. At the opening reception for “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier” at Winston Wächter Fine Art in NYC it was amazing to see how the work resonated with so many people, young and old in so many different ways. It simply proved that our stories, experiences, needs, concerns, etc… transcend generations and it’s something we all share. Our similarities are greater than our differences. For me, when the work resonates with others that’s when the world gets smaller, and life gets more purposeful.

Humor also began to play a large part throughout the project. I had always been really insecure about the inclusion of satire into my work because of the fear of it being perceived as sophomoric or unsophisticated. But I quickly realized that humor, irony and wit was my way of processing and presenting subjects that are far more complex than just a surface level quip (and it’s a hell of a lot more fun).

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{observers interacting with Scott’s larger pieces at his culminating show}

Lisa: You mentioned that this project was one of the most transformative things you’ve ever done. First, tell us about what you thought you might get out of the project when you embarked on it. Then, tell us how it was transformative for you.

Scott: For better (and worse) I have an active imagination so of course I thought about all kinds of “what ifs” for the project but I did myself the courtesy of focusing on simply making work every day. My work and my process were feeling rudderless and doing more of the same thing staring at studio walls was not going to get me anywhere new.

bsf_factory photo

One of the early and driving forces for “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier” was revealed when I had started doing 3” x 4” sketches several months before its inception. Like most life changing things it was already there, it was just waiting to be discovered. On a December afternoon in 2013 while searching through 20+ years of photographs to inspire some new ideas I came across an old photo I took on an overseas footwear design development trip. It was of a mural on a factory wall that read “BIGGER. SMALLER. FUNNIER.” It brought me back to the day I had taken the picture and the humor in its lost in translation meaning as an inspirational imperative. As I sat there staring at the photo 14 years later, the message had a profound simplicity in relation to my new quest; Do more of the good stuff, less of the shitty stuff and the joy will follow. So that’s exactly what I did and the project quickly had a name, a mission and I had a new philosophy.

What was most transformational about the project is how the unrelenting daily pace changed my process for making Art. At the beginning of “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier” creating a piece a day was like falling in love with someone. I was gaga for the project and it’s all I could think about. A reservoir of thoughts, ideas and sketches flowed freely fueled by the energy of a renewed sense of purpose. But like many relationships, honeymoons can be short lived and then the real work begins. I distinctly remember laughing to myself after an exhausting first week when I realized I would have to do it again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that for 358 more days. Or the daunting task every time I had to prepare up to a dozen pieces in advance of work consulting trips sometimes even bringing my painting supplies and scanner to paint on the road. The ceaseless appetite of the project combined with outside responsibilities and demands forced me to evolve my creative process. Never before had time seemed to pass so quickly. There was no space for perfection and preciousness as daily deadlines loomed.

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A little less than half way through the year on piece #144 I had a revelation. Because of the project’s appetite for content, I was forced to source the material closest to me; my own everyday experiences, stories and happenings. I mined years of life-changing personal adventures, photographs, collected ephemera and alliterations that have filled my head, shelves and storage containers for years. Without being conscious of it I had achieved one of the things I had set out to discover. Through the velocity and pressure of the project, my work was being directly informed in real-time by every day life. I was listening better and observing more. The little moments that make life great were the moments that were creating the art. In 2014 these moments showed up for me 369 times; from the California desert, to a barber shop, waiting for the next wave, to the passing of a loved one, from my 4 year old niece, during a never-ending meeting and in a saying on a factory wall. What may sound incomprehensibly obvious to some (especially to creatives) is that I realized that art is not a passive companion—Art is in the living.

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Lisa: How did the gallery show  and book with Winston Wächter Fine Art in New York come about?

Scott: I had intentionally not projected expectations on the results of “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” (O.K., maybe a couple projections). But it wouldn’t be until I had completed almost 100+ pieces in 4 months of work that I saw the potential of what was unfolding for the project. When I called my gallery partners to let them know what I was working on, Winston Wächter Fine Art was really excited. They loved the story, the use of social media, the democratization of the work, and of course the Art. They welcomed the inclusion of the analytics from the social media “likes” to inform the curation of the physical show. Out of 369 original paintings, we curated and framed 166 of the most socially liked and purchased pieces (with a couple personal favorites thrown in). As well, I transformed 14 of the top paintings into larger works accompanied by 2 new sculpture series.

BSF studio shot

Lisa: I remember early on in the project — maybe a few months in — you were struggling a bit and you emailed me to ask for advice about how not to give up on and how to stay engaged with it.  And that’s because drawing or painting something every day for a year is a really huge challenge. How did you approach it when it started to feel tedious or boring or stressful? And what advice would you now give to anyone wanting to do a daily project for an entire year?

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Scott: I’ve always been a fan of your 365 day projects not just because of the amazing work but also because of the stamina and constitution I imagined it must take to complete them. It was day 59 when I contacted you. “Struggling a bit” is an understatement. I’ve undertaken some crazy things in my life but this was on a different mental level than anything I had ever experienced. It’s hard to imagine the magnitude of a project like this and the intensity, will and resolve required to do something well every day let alone create, commercialize and socialize a thoughtful conceptual painting daily and then make an art show about it.

Your email reply was great because it was encouraging but more importantly it was practical. One of the things you mentioned was that during your 365 projects you had to plan pieces in advance of trips to make sure you didn’t miss a day. This helped to shift me into thinking about “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” as a job. To finish the project, make it exceptional and ensure some level sanity it required a daily schedule, especially considering I was running a design consultancy simultaneously. As soon as I created a routine, writing in the morning, sketching in the late afternoon, painting in the evening (late evening) and posting in the early morning, all that was left was to create great work.

My advice for anyone who wants to do a daily project for a year is to make sure that whatever it is that they’re doing, it needs to start with themselves. Do it because you love it and do it because you have to in order to survive and grow. There were many times during the project that it felt as if I was working within a vacuum, social media posts were not resonating, newsletters were seemingly being sent into a digital abyss and print orders were non-existent. These are the times that test your resolve and reinforce that it’s about the work and the love that you have for the work.

The other thing you mentioned Lisa is, “you WON’T regret it”.

I don’t. THANK YOU.

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Lisa: You are most welcome! Where can people buy the book or prints from the project? Where can people find you online?

Scott: The prints continue to be available via my website at Each piece is hand signed in a limited edition of 100. They’re digitally printed with archival inks on beautiful 100% Cotton Rag Acid Free Paper. On the site people can also watch the short film we did documenting the project’s half way point as well as a great piece that highlights the sketchbooks.

The “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” book documents all 369 paintings as well as the story of the project from beginning to end. We did a very small run of books for the first edition and I only have a handful left. If people are interested in purchasing a copy they can email me direct at

For the most up to date happenings, shows, sketches and recent musings give a follow at @scottpatt on Instagram.

BSF book mock up

Lisa: What are you working on now?

Scott: In the near term, “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” has created some fun opportunities including an upcoming partnership this summer with a great global lifestyle brand (TBA) and potentially exhibiting my work with some new galleries in the U.S. As well, since the show in N.Y.C. I’ve been working on some commissions for bigger works from the series. On my wish list…I’d love to get all 369 pieces into a book of daily postcards and I’d love to do a second edition of the book with a publisher.

Bigger picture, It’s incredibly fitting that one of the last pieces I created for the project was entitled “It’s not me. It’s you.”. There is no greater sentiment to the project and work to summarize the importance and inspiration that so many people played in fulfilling what “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier” became and where it still can go both physically and philosophically.

Thank you Lisa you definitely were and continue to be a part of that!

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Scott: A couple other amazing partners from “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” people should check out:

“Kingspoke” did amazing things throughout the project including the documentary.

“The Happening” created the amazing sketchbooks film and helped make my “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” font into a usable digital font.

My creative council and talented wife Lisa DeJohn


Thank you, Scott! You are a huge inspirational force in my life! <3

Have a great Wednesday everyone!



Anne Weil // Knitting Without Needles



I’m super excited to introduce you today to a brand new knitting book — and this isn’t just any knitting book. It’s a book filled with arm and finger knitting patterns (did you know you could knit without needles? With your own bare hands?). This is the kind of knitting that is perfect for non-knitters and knitters alike. The projects in this book come with easy step-by-step photographs and how-tos (that even kids can make). I love a chunky knit, and this book is filled with them!

I also want to introduce you to the book’s author, Anne Weil. I met Anne exactly three short years ago in 2012. I was about to head to the Lake Tahoe area to teach at a retreat the following week. The retreat organizer asked if I could stop and pick up another instructor on my way and bring her with me.  “Ugh,” I thought to myself — I didn’t necessarily want to spend four hours in the car with someone I didn’t know and was imagining awkward conversations with some weird woman as we drove through the mountains to Tahoe. But, of course, I said yes (how could I say no? how weird could she be?) and stopped the following week to pick up Anne and drive her to the retreat in my car. And, you guessed it (I think you know where this story is going), not only was Anne not weird — she was one of the warmest, most interesting, easy-to-talk-to people I had ever met. We became fast friends and have remained close to this day. Thank you, universe.

Furthermore, I learned that weekend at the retreat that Anne was not only warm and interesting, but she was also an exceptionally talented crafter, knitter, crocheter and maker. She was (and still is) the mastermind behind the blog Flax and Twine, and now she is the new author of Knitting Without Needles: A Stylish Introduction to Finger and Arm Knitting.

Today in my Interviews with People I Admire Series, I present to you Anne Weil, who tells us about her new book Knitting Without Needles. I’m also going to share with you the gorgeous arm-knitted pouf she made for me (which my dog Wilfredo has adopted as his new lounger), which is part of the Great American Pouf Tour. Anne’s pouf is one of my favorite projects in her new book, and I am so proud to own this lovely blue version (now to make one myself!).


{Wilfredo sitting on my new blue arm-knitted pouf, made for me by Anne}

Without further ado, Anne Weil.

Lisa: Anne, your new book Knitting Without Needles is simply gorgeous. Tell us about the process of making the book. How did you come up with all of the projects? How long did the process of making the book take? What other creative people were involved in the making of the book?

Anne: Thank you, Lisa! A lot of the project ideas had been brewing for a long time. Before I submitted the book proposal, I remember sitting up late one night with my daughter sketching and brainstorming all the possible finger-knitting projects we could think of. Such a fond memory, and it took off from there. The process of making a book was so much more involved and time-consuming than I originally thought. First, was the challenge of designing projects, with yarns, colors and ideas that all worked with one another cohesively in a group. I just let my mind go and thought of many, many possible projects. After I had a bank of ideas, I just started choosing and trying them–some worked and some didn’t. At the same time, I spent a lot of time on Pinterest pulling together images that had the feel I was going for. This helped forward my design concepts, as well.  After that, I worked out a color concept for each chapter.  I officially started working on the book in January of 2014, and I finished all the projects and written all the patterns by August of that year. But that wasn’t the end!


{Wilfredo on his new pouf // aka: “Lounger”}

I did all the art direction for the book. I loved having that aspect of the book all in my hands. I was lucky to work with two different and talented photographer/stylist teams. I made sure I had detailed concept summaries for each project and each chapter to help direct the work. It took five days to shoot the whole book. All the model shots and the cover shot were styled by Brittany Jepsen of The House that Lars Built and photographed by Jessica Peterson. The other product photographs were done in apartments in New York City, styled by Pam Morris and shot by Lucy Schaeffer.  After that, it was a 7 months of combing through all the language, the layouts, the details to get them all just right.  Then, 5 months of waiting while it printed, and, finally, it’s here!

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{Image of the pouf from the book}

Lisa: And it’s a gorgeous book!! Tell us about finger and arm knitting. How long have you been doing these forms of knitting, how did you get into them and why do they appeal to you?

Anne: I love how self-sufficient these two crafts are. Literally, you just need your beautiful self and some yarn to make something gorgeous. Apparently, I learned how to finger-knit when I was very young. One day, when my kids were bored with my knitting, I picked up a skein of yarn and showed them how to finger knit without even knowing what I was doing! It was total muscle memory! After that, we were all hooked, making miles and miles of finger knitting together.  I knew that there had to be a way to use these long strands in a beautiful way for modern projects.  I started working toward that goal. Through those efforts, I came up with the new techniques to attach the finger knitting back to itself, like crochet, and to build a wider fabric. This blew open the doors of possibilities for finger knitting, and that is reflected in the projects in the book. The arm knitting obsession began four years ago when someone asked me if I had heard of it. I dug around a little bit and played a lot and figured it out. I fell in love with it immediately. I love the modern shift in scale and the luscious loft that arm knitting brings to just about any project.  I really enjoy bringing traditional knitting techniques, even cables and lace, to arm knitting in this book. So many fabulous, yet easy to make projects.

Pattern from Knitting Without Needles-09

Lisa: I’ve never arm or finger knitted before. I feel intimated! Can your book change that for me? How?

Anne: Never fear, Lisa!! You can do it! The book comes with really easy step-by-step photographic directions, both for how to finger and arm knit, and also for each project. Remember, too, that finger knitting has previously been relegated to the 5-7 year old set so it is a very easy and straightforward craft to learn and a fun one! It becomes addicting, even for adults! Arm and finger knitting are much simpler to learn than traditional knitting as you don’t have to figure out how to handle needles. In these crafts, you are simply bringing loops of yarn through current loops on your arms or fingers. The gorgeous beginner projects in this book are perfect for the newbie!  I’ve been doing a lot of workshops, too. The majority of time that I am teaching, 90% of my participants have never knit before and they all leave feeling confident about their skill.  I can’t wait for you to learn how!

Pattern from Knitting Without Needles-10

Lisa: What is your favorite project in the book?

Anne: That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child! Hmm . . . For style, I would have to say I adore the Faux Sheepskin.  For technique innovation, I am most proud of the Finger Knit Booties or the Linen Baskets. I love that these gorgeous things are made simply knitting on your fingers.  For wow factor, I’m in love with the tote! I find it all so thrilling.


Lisa: Where can people find you online?

Anne: My blog is Flax & Twine.  You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  I teach online at Creativebug here and here.  I also teach workshops in person, you can find my latest teaching schedule here.

Lisa: I also want to mention that the book’s yarn and all the yarn for this tour were graciously sponsored by Purl Soho. My fabulous floor pouf was made with Cascade Magnum yarn. And kits for the poufs or signed copies of Knitting Without Needles can be purchased at Anne’s shop. Thank you, Anne!

Now let’s get to knitting this weekend, friends! Have a great Friday!


Karen Walrond // Looking for the Light



{Self portrait by my friend Karen Walrond, today’s subject on Interviews with People I Admire}

Sometime about four or five years ago I got a shout-out (or a friendly shout-to) on Twitter from someone with the handle @chookooloonks. I don’t remember exactly what Karen (that’s her actual name) said to me that day — it may have been about something I’d written on my blog or something I’d tweeted. At the time, I was very active on Twitter (not so much anymore), and I talked to a lot of people I didn’t know. Something about Karen intrigued me. Through her Twitter profile I found out about her beautiful blog, which I began reading. And I started admiring her beautiful photography. I also found out that Karen and I had umpteen friends in common. That day I decided I wanted to be internet friends with Karen.

A couple of years later, Karen contacted me because she wanted to commission me to make her a painting. I’d just begun making more abstract paintings, and that’s exactly what Karen wanted. I was thrilled and honored. Karen suggested we get on Skype (finally!) to meet each other in person (she lives in Houston and at the time I was living in Oakland, California)  so we could talk about what she was looking for and to show me where the painting would be hung when it was finished. Of course, on that Skype date, we talked about a lot more than the painting. We discovered that we are almost the same age. And we talked about one significant thing we have in common: that we both had other professional careers before becoming artists and writers — and how that has shaped our experience later in life.

Since then we’ve met in real life & I continue to admire Karen for all she does (and she does a lot of amazing things). Recently, the last time we were together, Karen took a portrait of me for her Thrive Portrait Series (which we talk about in our interview below), which led to this blog post, which led to the next book I’m more than likely about to start writing & editing (more on that soon).

Without further ado, I present to you Karen Walrond: Speaker, Author , Photo-essayist (and as you will see: so much more).


Lisa: One of the things I love about you, Karen, is that you are not just one thing, you are many things:  a teacher, photographer, speaker, writer, traveler, thinker, artist, activist and more. And your online presence is about a lot of things: food, travel, family, friendship, photography, personal change and responsibility (I could go on and on here). All of those things are brought together by this unifying theme in your work (and in all the ways you express it), which is the message that we are all just “looking for the light”. What is that universal experience of looking for the light? And how you approach looking for the light each day?

Karen: Thank you so much! (And a digression — I love that you used all those titles to describe me. When I first quit my 9-5 job, I really struggled with not knowing what “title” to put on my business cards. I eventually decided not to have any title at all — and eight years later, I still don’t have one on my cards!)

“Look for the light” has so many levels for me:  obviously, as a photographer, light is my medium — “photography” actually means “drawing with light” — so my work requires me to literally look for the light every time I put a camera to my face.  But “drawing with light” is only part of what I do (and what I hope to convey with my work). I think “looking for the light” is about looking for the light inside each other — listening to each other’s stories, and seeking resonance, across races, and cultures, and nationalities and backgrounds.  I also think it’s about making a practice of looking for beauty in our everyday lives, and feeling gratitude for it — this practice is key, I think, in living a joyful life.  I don’t think joyful people are people who live lives absent of pain — but they’re people who can transcend that pain, and identify moments of joy despite the pain.

Admittedly, my camera is a huge tool in my looking for beauty every day.  But so is my journaling practice.  Anything that I can do to record beauty and light works for me.


Lisa: Yes, so as you mentioned, another theme in your work and writing is this idea that it is our differences that make us beautiful. You even wrote a book about it. Tell us about The Beauty of Different and why it is so important today, now in 2015.

Karen: It’s funny, I wrote that book in 2010, and I sort of wish it was just coming out now, because it seems that people have lost sight of how beautiful Different is, now more than ever!

I wrote the book because I was I was enthralled by this dichotomy:  on one hand, we hate standing out: we go to our jobs, our churches, our schools, and hope no one things we’re weird, or dress strangely or act strangely. We have things about ourselves — physical yes, but also emotional, or our belief systems — that we try not to let everyone know about. And yet, we’re enthralled by people who do just that:  who are confident enough to be different, and look different, and act differently from the crowd. So I decided to write a book where I interviewed people who didn’t fit the norm, and yet because they didn’t, their lives were more fulfilling because of it. I wanted to interview them to get answers on how we can tap into our own differences, and see them as assets, rather than liabilities.

Luckily, everyone I approached was more than happy and open to the idea of having me photograph and interview them. In the book, for example, there’s a boxer who is also a priest. There’s a wildly popular New York Times bestselling author and blogger who writes about her severe social anxiety. There’s a woman who is perpetually youthful, even though she’s in her 60s. And many others. And what it all came down to was this: they all decided that they were going to tell their own stories, and not let others tell their stories for them. And their stories were that they were beautiful.


{In May 2015, Karen traveled to Malawi with The ONE Campaign, a nonpartisan, advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. This photo is from that trip}

Lisa: One thing we have in common is that we both worked in regular 9-5 jobs in our 20’s and 30’s and came to new creative ventures later in life. You were a lawyer in your former life. Tell us how you went from that life to this life, that experience of transformation and why it happened (and any thoughts on that).

Karen: I’m actually still a lawyer — although I don’t practice anymore, I do keep my license active, and take continuing legal education courses every year to ensure that it stays active!

The story of how I went from that life to this life is a long one, one that is probably too long to go into here, but suffice to say that while I was, by all measures, very successful as a lawyer, I was really unhappy, despite having a really great job, bosses who allowed me a lot of freedom, and being paid really well.  And yet, I was unhappy to the point that it was starting to affect my health.  It turns out that I don’t have the temperament to be a lawyer, even though I love the law — so I quit.

Photography and writing had long been a hobby of mine for a long time, and so after I left my practice, I focused on those — developing the blog, and writing the book — and then as a result, I’ve developed a successful public speaking career as well.  I speak about things like The Beauty of Different, yes; but also related concepts, like leadership, and self-empowerment, and diversity, among other things.  My clients include everyone from women’s groups, to universities, to corporations, and yes, even legal organizations and law firms!  So it all comes full circle.


{The portrait Karen took of me this past January for her Thrive project}

Lisa: Earlier this year you started a new project called the Thrive Portrait Project. Tell us about that project. What is it and why did you start it?

Karen: Back in October 2014, I took a month-long sabbatical from writing my blog, and I decided to look around and see what sort of blogs and other personal writings there were out there by people who are similarly situated, and feeling the same way I’d be feeling: entering a new stage: a time when things are going great, but I also feel like I’m ready for new challenges, new adventures. A time of flourishing. Sadly, I found very few. Save for one incredibly beautiful blog This is 50, by gifted photographer Kristin Perers, there wasn’t a whole lot out there that represents what I’d been experiencing — that now, in my late 40s, this isn’t a time of disappearing, but more one fueled by the feeling captured by the indomitable Maya Angelou, who said that her mission in life isn’t merely to survive, but “to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style.”

So, inspired by my friend Erin Loechner (who advised me to “write the kind of content that I wish I saw elsewhere on the web”), when I returned to Chookooloonks, I decided to use it as a medium to, in part, explore what the word “thrive” means to me. As part of that exploration, I embarked on a new photography project that I called the Thrive Portrait Project, and shoot photographs of women over 40 who I felt truly embodied the word “thrive,” and ask them for their definition of the word.  I take the images using an vintage Hasselblad medium-format film camera. Because the camera is completely manual, it requires me to slow down and be more meditative when I take the shots, with the upside being that the final result has a wonderfully timeless film quality to the image, which is, after all, the point. The project is slow going, mostly because I’m being very picky about who I photograph: not only do they have to be over 40, but my subjects also have to inspire me in some way. Some of the women who’ve sat for me are friends or family I know well, others were people I didn’t know very well at the time, but watching them from afar inspired me to live greater, so they definitely qualified.  What’s been amazing is that each woman I’ve photographed has a different definition for the word “thrive,” but it’s packed with wisdom — and an overarching theme that keeps coming up is that thriving isn’t about perfection, but about rising strong after facing adversity. It’s a pretty amazing thing.


{Portrait of fellow photographer Brooke Shaden}

Lisa: You take really awesome photographs of your everyday life. Do you carry your camera with you everywhere? How does this experience of being a photographer shape how you see the world?

Karen: I do carry a camera with me everywhere!  I used to carry one of my big cameras everywhere, but that quickly became cumbersome, so now I save that camera for when I know that I’m going somewhere where there’ll be a person or a location or scenery that I’m going to find inspiring. On normal days, however — days where my only travel will be to the grocery store or to pick my daughter up from school — I carry a tidy little point-and-shoot by Sony in my purse. While it doesn’t have the power of my Nikon dSLR, it takes stunning photographs nonetheless, and is really convenient for when something beautiful comes up. And something beautiful always comes up — if there’s one thing that having a consistent photography practice has taught me, it is this.

Of course, in a pinch, my iPhone works well, too.  Camera phones are amazing these days, truly.


Lisa: One of my favorite recent blog posts of yours is this one about the difference between achieving goals as opposed to getting good at maintaining a good ritual. That is — that it is the behavior we instill that gets us to a goal that is more important than the goal itself. I had a huge a-ha moment when I read that post! You speak of your journaling ritual in that post. Tell us about how often you write and draw in your journal and what that ritual does for you.

Karen: I try to write in my journal every morning Monday-through-Friday at a minimum.  I draw whenever the mood takes me — sometimes it’s several times a week, sometimes a month will go by before I ever play in my journal.  But if I skip days, it shows up in my life: I’m far more scattered, I forget important things, I’m more irritable. Journaling is a form of meditation for me, and allows me to dump everything that’s swirling around in my head so that I can show up less scattered in the world. It’s definitely a self-care thing.


Lisa: What are you working on right now? Any new or existing workshops, projects or passions you can share with us?

Karen: Well, it’s actually sort of “busy season” for me right now — I’ve got a lot of talks and keynotes that are coming up, to various corporations, girls’ organizations and conferences around the country, on creativity and leadership, which is always really exciting.  Also, I recently started the process of becoming certified in Brené Brown’s Daring Way curriculum, which will be incorporated in a lot of the talks that I give as well.  And I’m actually looking into getting certified as an executive coach, so that I can do one-on-one executive coaching with C-level executives as well as creative entrepreneurs.  I’m hoping to eventually branch into doing corporate workshops and retreats for small executive groups or creative entrepreneurs, with any luck, in 2016.

In amongst all of that of course, I’ll be doing a lot of traveling and shooting.  So it’s exciting times!

Lisa: All so exciting! I may sign up as your first coaching client (for real, but we can talk about that later). Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. Friends, you can view all of Karen’s magic here on her site (which also links to her blog, Instagram and all the other places you can find her online and also how you can contact her if you are interested in working with her).

Have a great Friday and see you next week!


Write Here Write Now // Nicole LaRue & Naomi Davis Lee



Sometime in the last couple of years, I got a Facebook friend request from fellow illustrator Nicole LaRue. I knew of Nicole’s amazing work and also learned she was living with her partner Naomi in Japan. Since then, we’ve became friends, and I’ve learned we have lots in common — including our love for making art, hand lettering and creating books. Recently Nicole and Naomi published their first ever book, Write Here Write Now, which came out just this week through Chronicle Books. It’s a fantastic book for young writers designed to get their creative juices flowing — a place to write down all of their passions, dreams and ideas. A couple of weeks ago I interviewed Nicole and Naomi about their book, the process of making it, and their creative collaboration.

Without further ado, I present to you Nicole LaRue and Naomi Davis Lee, this week’s Interviews with People I Admire!


Lisa: Tell us about Write Here Write Now. What’s the idea behind it and who’s it for?

N&N: Write Here Write Now, published by Chronicle Books, is a guided activity journal for older kids and trendy teens that encourages young writers to ponder, wonder, challenge, quiz themselves and their friends and, above all, to create. The journal is 144 pages packed with witty and unique prompts to inspire creative genius. The young reader becomes the author, the artist, the collector, the maker, the musician, and the explorer.


With this book, they create short stories, poems, and rhymes. They doodle, color, and draw. They decorate postcards, explore their handwriting, and collect found objects for show and tell. They ask deep questions, wonder about their younger selves, and write letters to their future selves. They play games, help friends, explore their superhero powers, and become outright daydreamers. It is the best book they’ve ever written!


Lisa: How long did it take you to create the book? How did you collaborate with each other?

N&N: Write Here Write Now was our first big collaboration. For months, we brainstormed activities for the journal on long walks together. We had kitchen-table meetings to talk about the structure and style. We’d sit on the couch to explore crazy word combinations for activity titles until our efforts turned into a laugh fest or dissolved into tears. Naomi was consigned to writing duty, and Nicole was entrusted with the illustration and design.


Lisa: What do you hope kids and teens who use this book take away from it or gain from it?

N&N: Our hope is that young writers will get lost in creating their own adventure. We keep our fingers crossed that they’ll gain confidence in their own creative process and will be thrilled with the outcome.


Lisa: Nicole, you are an illustrator. What else are you working on right now? What is your favorite kind of work, product or thing to create and why?

Nicole: My favorite projects are gigantic in scope. They give me the chance to be involved in all the little details and aspects—anything from books and journals, full product lines, to stationery programs. I have heaps of projects in the works all the time. I’m currently working on a travel program called Away We Go, an adult coloring book filled with quotes, and a graphic novel about mental illness called Food Fight.




Lisa: Interesting fact: You are both American, but you’ve lived in Japan for a few years. How did that happen and what’s it like?

N&N: We’re grand adventurers at heart. About four years ago, we decided we wanted a change of scenery, so we pulled out a map and put a finger down. We packed our bags and headed east! Naomi took a teaching job at a university in South Korea, and Nicole uprooted her laptop and drawing pens and went along. A year later, another opportunity led us to western Japan, and we’ve been here for three years. So much in the cultural landscape has inspired us—even minutia that we never expected. At first, a profound language barrier had us wandering around in grocery stores for untold hours examining unfamiliar products. We were forced to slow down and see things from a new perspective, to digest the world in another way.


But life here is not all about aimlessly wandering up and down aisles for hours. Efficiency is an integral part of city life, and it’s interesting to contemplate on crowded station platforms. Overworked people rush here and there, run for trains, crowd into packed train cars, vie for the next open seat if they’re lucky enough to spot one. Exhausted bodies press against one another. Sleepy heads bob about and come dangerously close to resting on your shoulder. Yet, the manners folks maintain are impeccable. No one seems to notice the chaos of this so-called normal life. Oh, but the stories we have to tell! In a country as densely populated as Japan, the rawness of humanity makes a scene that we can’t ignore.

Lisa: Where can people find Write Here Write Now?

N&N: Write Here Write Now has been released internationally. It’s being sold on the Chronicle Books website and is widely available online and from booksellers large and small.

Lisa: Just search for Write Here Write Now in your browser! And thank you Nicole and Naomi for taking the time to share your book and your experience with us!

Have a great Thursday, everyone!


Chroma Show // Lisa Solomon & Christine Buckton Tillman



{the CHROMA installation in Baltimore}

Almost 10 years ago I met artist Lisa Solomon online. The online world was much smaller then, and I met most of my internet friends at that time on the photo sharing site Flickr. When Lisa and I met on Flickr, we quickly discovered that we both lived in the Bay Area in California, so we went rapidly from being internet friends to real life friends. Over the years we’ve collaborated on projects (even having a show together on the East Coast in 2008), traveled together, and remained close friends and confidants. Lisa is one of the artists I interviewed in Art Inc, and I admire her work greatly.

Around that time I also met Christine Buckton Tillman on Flickr and admire her work greatly as well. Lisa and Christine (who Lisa also met on Flickr 10 years ago!) have gone on to be friends and collaborators as well. Recently they collaborated on an installation called CHROMA at Gallery CA in Baltimore, Maryland that literally knocked my socks off. CHROMA “explores color theory through objects from everyday life, expressed through crowd sourced installation, drawings, and sculpture…  The installation will be a culmination of sorting, arranging and compiling the materials into an orderly, chromatically compelling piece, with the intent of elevating the viewer’s relationship with the mundane debris that we interact with on a daily basis.” I decided I had to interview Lisa and Christine about their CHROMA collaboration. It was a huge, time intensive endeavor, and the end result is really phenomenal (as the photos here show) . Without further ado, I present to you Lisa Solomon and Christine Buckton Tillman in my Interviews with People I Admire Series!


Lisa C: Tell us about yourselves! Who are you and how did you meet?

Lisa S:  Hi, I’m Lisa. I live in Oakland, CA. I’m a mixed media artist who gravitates toward concepts of hybridity, domesticity, and issues/materials surrounding art and craft. I also am an educator, teaching at various colleges in the Bay Area, and sometimes a craft book writer/illustrator/graphic designer. Christine and I met online – I think Flickr was where we first crossed paths almost 10 years ago. We had both recently finished grad school, and we were eager to find like art minds. Back then Flickr was a great community. We would post a lot of work and get feedback. I gravitated to Christine’s work immediately. It was just so my aesthetic, the colors, the subject matter, the handmade quality of it. We joked that we should have a show together back then. We’ve always kept in touch via the various social media of the moment, and so more recently it’s been Instagram.  We are also both working mom artists [which I often don’t want to admit is its own clan, but I think in many ways it is.]


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{Lisa’s work on display in the gallery}

Christine: I’m Christine! I have Midwest roots but I’ve lived in Baltimore, Maryland for the past 13 years. I’m a very flat sculptor who makes mostly drawings. I also teach at The Park School of Baltimore. When I met Lisa on Flickr, I was a couple of years out of grad school  (Iowa 2002!) and missed the accountability that a large community of artists. Lisa was one of the first like minded artists I met on there. I think she was embroidering robots. I loved that the community shared not just finished work but the process too. I have really vivid memories of her early felt tanks and seeing her map drawings in her studio before the installation.  At the time I was doing a lot of work with felt too and a few years later made similar maps for these huge outdoor sculptures made to be photographed using copy paper and golf tees.


{Christine’s work on display in the gallery}

We met in person back in 2011. I was tagging along on a trip for my husband’s project and he ended up speaking to Lisa‘s Professional Practice class at SF State. While it was short, it was great to meet in person. I was pregnant at the time, and we turned the trip into a California “babymoon.” Lisa‘s daughter is a few years older than mine, and watching her parent, teach and be an artist has helped me every step of the way. Most of my mom friends in town are not in the arts. It’s a much needed clan.


{cross section of final CHROMA installation}

Lisa C: First, describe the concept for the CHROMA show. How did the idea for the show come to be? Tell us from the beginning how it was sparked and how it evolved.

Lisa S: I think we honestly have ALWAYS wanted to show together. Our work just seems to fit together. But Christine finally pushed us to propose a show to Gallery CA in Baltimore when they put out a call for exhibitions in 2014. It turns out I know quite a few lovely people in Baltimore so it seemed like a great idea to me. Show/Visit/Hang out: YAY!

In thinking thematically about where our work intersected it seemed that color was really an obvious starting point. We are both drawn to and utilize color in pretty specific ways in our work. I think as moms we became even more acutely aware of how toys are colored. How much plastic and general colored STUFF is in our lives. For example why are there bread ties in white, turquoise, red and blue? I’ve also been doing social practice pieces lately – asking the public for help in various ways; it’s been really rewarding and adds a different dimension to the work. So we thought HEY, why don’t we ask people to send us stuff?  Any kind of stuff – things that mostly read as one color,  junk from your drawers, discarded kids toys, etc. etc. In part I think we wanted people [and ourselves] to take notice of what surrounds us: how do we interact with color in our daily lives? And, in part, we both believe that things arranged in color can be stunningly beautiful, even bits and bobs and doodads.

In addition to the installation, we concluded that we’d both show individual pieces, but we also thought it would be SUPER fun to collaborate. Christine sent me a pile of “reject” drawings [none of which I thought were rejects], and I sent her a pile of drawings and we had at it. It was really fun to get to play with her work. I just ended up doing something really simple. I added felt and embroidery. She ended up doing some really amazing collaging and cutting up of my work. When I saw them I kept thinking, now why didn’t I think of that?!



{Some of Lisa and Christine’s collaborative work}

Christine: When I first finished graduate school I taught a Color Theory class at a local community college. I asked students to make a “color collection” — collecting 100 things of different colors. I always felt that idea had more potential than what my students ended up doing. Probably because Lisa and I didn’t just simply collect, we also ordered everything, and ordering the stuff was a big deal. It took the both of us nearly two days of arranging during installation of the show. That part is super formal and complicated. Size, shape and texture all play  a role with the color. We had to think about lines, edges and small compositions within the larger composition. It’s hard stuff. We were so afraid that it would just be straight up rainbow but there’s so many transitions- pinky- oranges! dull purple-blues! A yellow and green paper corn and husk! That’s the stuff that makes it different than a new box of 8 Crayola crayons. That and the fact that it’s massive and full of thousands of things.

I was happy to have the rest of our work together too. I love how Lisa‘s doily piece and my woven piece work together. They both feature obsessive handcraft and grid structure and it’s nice to see them hang out together.

The best part of collaborating is when you do something you would never have done solo. I think for both of us it was nice to let go and work entirely with found objects. I’ve done large scale installations with found objects and overhead projectors but this is different. I can’t forget the drawings! I hadn’t see what Lisa did with my rejects till we opened them in the gallery and HOLY CATS!  There’s this great one where she cut out these Mattise-like leaf shapes that were in the back of my drawing in the colors from the shape in the foreground. I think I’ll have to keep sending Lisa my rejects!


{Lisa installing the CHROMA show}

Lisa C: You put a call out for people to send you their colored stuff for the show. What was the experience like for you of asking and receiving people’s unwanted stuff? Did you use everything that you received? Did you get about what you needed/expected or more or less?

Lisa S: The experience was really positive. I think we both thought, OK hopefully we’ll get a couple 100 objects and we’ll manage to make it work. In the end we ended up with thousands of items. Way more than we expected. Most of the stuff came to me and I would arrange it and photograph it and give a shout out to the donor on our blog & Instagram. I was shocked at what people sent. Some beautiful vintage items. Some really personal items. Some handmade things. We got a lot more than we expected. This is the beauty of just asking. It’s amazing how people want to participate. The small installations for documentation ended up being really crucial to understanding how the larger install was going to work.

We did not end up using EVERY item we received. Mostly because we ran out of room. In some instances we just couldn’t fathom using 50 buttons of the same color [although there really are a lot of buttons up there]. And also a few things were just really tricky to figure out how to adhere to the wall; we used hot glue for most things, some pins, and poster putty – a few items like really heavy bouncy balls just would NOT stay up no matter what we did.


Christine: We definitely ran out of room for blues and whites and a few things didn’t make it on the wall. But it was like less than 1% of the total submissions!

The bulk of my objects came from my work. I work in a K-12 school and while people sent me things by mail too the bulk of my collected objects came from the Park School community. I spoke about the show in assemblies to the Lower, Middle, and Upper School showing them pictures of Lisa‘s work and mine. You could always see the knitters (students and faculty) in the audience gasp when they saw Lisa‘s 1000 doilies! I showed them a picture of some found objects and told them I need the same kinds of stuff. I left boxes around campus and they filled up over the course of a month or so. The Lower School kids filled the box three times and while the Upper School students filled it about one and a half times I had a student give me a whole box from her house and the cast of the spring play carry up a box of hundreds of popped balloons that they had used as fireworks sounds.


{Installation process!}

Lisa C: What was the installation like? What was the process? How long did it take? How did you decide on composition? Where there any items that were difficult of impossible to hang on the wall?

Lisa S: The installation was crazy, but good. I had organized all the stuff sent to me by color, each in it’s own garbage bag. The first day in the gallery we dumped all the colors out and started arranging them. We realized that we had enough stuff to pretty much cover the main wall in the gallery. That was exciting and daunting! The composition was sort of dictated by what we had, and how we wanted to transition from color to color. We also knew that we didn’t want to start with red. While we love rainbow order we didn’t want to strictly adhere to it. So we started with red on the right. We were SO lucky to have so many amazing helpers and scaffolding [I love scaffolding] so the process went faster and smoother than we anticipated.


We basically decided that the best way to go about it was for Christine and I to arrange the bulk of the installation right in front of the wall on the floor. We tacked each color. We realized that we both felt that the transitions between each large area of color were incredibly important. There were certain objects that helped those transitions happen, and there were certain multi colored objects that we had to decide where they belonged. We also noticed that there were certain color combos that  kept coming up: red and green, royal blue and red. Trying to incorporate those became tricky, but also rewarding. As we worked on the floor we photographed each section and then people had a map to use as they glued to the wall. We knew that it wouldn’t be exact, but the map would help to insure that things ended up close to how we wanted.

We also wanted the composition to be organic, not a rigid square or rectangle. What we liked about all the smaller compositions [photographed as they came in] was that they had interesting borders, so we wanted to reproduce that on a grander scale.

Overall the install took 4 days – with a couple of long nights in there.


Christine: We had tons of volunteers too! Gallery CA is in in the ground floor of the City Arts Building in the Station North Arts District in Baltimore. The top floors contain live/work spaces for artists and creatives and affordable housing for people in the neighborhood. We had lots of residents volunteering to help as well students and former students of mine, and of course friends from Instagram!

In total I think we had over 20 different people helping us so having the maps that we photographed on the floor was crucial. We learned pretty quickly due to the red section having a thermostat in the middle of it that sticking to the map made everything go much smoother. Especially when you have 8-10 volunteers sharing glue guns and working on different colored sections, some up on a high scaffold. Having a guide and being able to just get someone started as soon as they walk in was crucial.

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Lisa C: What was the most satisfying aspect of collecting and installing the show? What was the most frustrating aspect?

Lisa S: I think it was mostly really fun to collect everything. It was like Christmas every time I went to my PO box. It was also just wonderful to see how involved people got. All the notes of encouragement, the excitement for the project. It was infectious. Also hanging a show like this always feels like camp or theater, you know? You have a finite time with these people. You have to trust them. There’s a lot of time to talk and get to know someone while you are performing a repetitive task. It feels very communal and exciting – everyone working towards a singular goal. Overall there wasn’t much frustration. A couple of times during the layout process I realized a needed a break and couldn’t see straight anymore. A few times we had to re-adjust things on the wall, but otherwise I’d say it was a pretty seamless experience.


Christine: Not much frustration at all. We should have had knee pads for that first day crawling on the floor but otherwise I thought the install went great! I loved seeing all the things come together at once. That first day was the first time we had seen everything together and it was great to see each others reaction whether it was my awe at some pink scissors or a glittery blue car or Lisa‘s amazement that we had three of these weird toy compasses.Lisa C: What was the reaction of the people at the opening of the show? What are some of the things you heard people say?

Lisa S: I would say in general the reaction was surprise and wonder [always a good reaction]. Kids LOVED it [including mine – she insisted on telling me what one special item she would treasure from each color]. There was some good gasping.  And good giggling. A lot of “I would not think to do this,” and “how much time did it take?”


{Observers at the show’s opening}

Christine: I heard a lot of “this is so awesome!” A team of videographers making a short about the neighborhood said they got some great shots, and my friend’s 3 year old wants everyone to know that he “likes the blue car.” When you see a bunch of things all together like that it’s hard not to try to pick out your favorites. It’s overwhelming in the best possible farm auction kind of way. While it wasn’t at the opening I was pretty thrilled to see that the Mayor of Baltimore took pictures of it and Instagramed it!

Lisa C: That’s amazing! I wish I could see it in person myself. Now, I have to ask: What will you do with everything once the show comes down?

Lisa S: We are saving everything! We are doing CHROMA #2 in San Francisco next summer at Rare Device. It will be interesting to reconfigure it to fit their space. I’m already thinking about how to deal with the doorway! And the fact that we can’t lay everything out on the floor for days on end since the space has to function as a store too.


{Christine and Lisa after the completed installation!}

Christine: It comes down on August 20th. I’m already assembling another team of volunteers ready to climb the scaffold and get everything off the wall. It all fits into about seven boxes that will live in my basement until it’s time to ship them across the country again. I love thinking about the jet set and glamorous life these objects are having.

Lisa C: Thank you so much for telling us about this amazing collaboration and for sharing all the gorgeous images of the show! I know my readers will enjoy it! If you live in Baltimore or nearby, the show is up through August 19.

Kathryn Clark // Foreclosure Quilts


Washington DC Foreclosure Quilt Overall

{Kathryn’s incredible Washington D.C. Foreclosure Quilt, now part of the Smithsonian Collection}

A few years ago, I became acquainted with artist Kathryn Clark. We have many friends in common, and it was inevitable that we would meet. Since I’ve known Kathryn, I’ve always admired her work. Earlier this year we were both at a gathering at our mutual friend Sonya’s house. There were about eight of us, and we were all sitting around chatting. Kathryn pulled out part of a quilt she was working on. She explained that it was a quilt she was madly trying to finish because it had been acquired by the Smithsonian. We all gasped in delight (the SMITHSONIAN!!!), and naturally we all had many questions. She proceeded to tell us about the series of “foreclosure” quilts she’d been making and how that led to the Smithsonian acquisition. Her story is so fascinating and her foreclosure quilts are such stunning (and interesting) works of art that I decided I had to interview Kathryn here about the quilts and the story behind the acquisition.

Without further ado, I present to you the amazing Kathryn Clark in my Interviews with People I Admire series!

Clark_portrait Leslie Sofia Lindell

{Portrait of Kathryn by Leslie Sophia Lindell}

Lisa: Kathryn, congratulations! You just had a quilt acquired by the Smithsonian! We’ll get to that in a moment, but I’d love first for you to tell us about your background & trajectory as an artist. How did you get where you are? What kind of work do you make?

Kathryn: Thanks, Lisa! I’m still in a state of shock about the acquisition. When the Smithsonian’s Renwick first contacted me via email, I thought it was a hoax! I’ve been pretty lucky with my background that led me to where I am now. I’ve been an artist ever since I can remember (both my mom and dad were artists so it was natural to follow a similar path). I’m a fourth generation artist on my mom’s side. I also had a love of maps and architecture from my dad’s side of the family. But, I wanted to have a degree in something where I could find a job but didn’t have the financial resources to pursue architecture, so I chose to study interior architecture at San Jose State. My first job out of college was working for my college professor who had a three person architecture firm in San Francisco. We had the chance to do some urban design and our bible was Peter Calthorpe’s book, “The Next American Metropolis.”  I realized when working on the urban design project that Peter’s firm, Calthorpe Associates was in Berkeley, just over the bridge. I loved the big picture, sketchy nature of urban design over architecture so I called up the firm and asked if I could stop by. With no prior design experience, Peter loved my rendering skills and called me that night to offer me a job. I was blown away! I worked my way up to project manager in three years and loved every second of it. I left after three years to work in San Francisco in the hopes that I would be closer to home to start a family. But a few less than exciting jobs in other firms sent my stress level over the edge so I escaped to work full time as an artist.

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{Detail of D.C. foreclosure quilt}

I slowly evolved as a fiber artist, actually resisting the urge to work with fabric for several years because of the stigma of it being a craft and not an art. I used to be an abstract painter but started to dabble with sewing and knitting when I had my daughter in 2004. I didn’t understand what drew me to love the medium, it just felt so comfortable when I was sewing. One day, when I was doing a little weaving project on Mother’s Day and doubting that what I was doing was ‘art,’ I was listening to a Storycore Mother’s Day special. It suddenly dawned on me that my mom had been a fiber artist and that’s why I was so drawn to it. My mom battled leukemia for a large part of my childhood, and she died when I was seventeen so I vaguely remembered the early years of her sewing and weaving on her giant loom. No wonder working with fabric felt so comfortable for me. I’ve never doubted my choice of medium after that day.

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{Chicago Foreclosure Quilt}

Lisa: That is so interesting! My mom was a weaver when I was a kid and is also a fiber artist! Okay, now tell us about your series of “foreclosure” quilts. How did that series begin? What sparked it for you? How did it develop over time?

Kathryn: It was a slow process as I knew I wanted to merge my love of urban planning with my art. The first foreclosures began around the time I was still an urban designer. There was a lot of rapid urban development and a lot of encouragement to buy into these new neighborhoods with crazy incentives. Las Vegas is a great example. No one seemed to care how much making people live beyond their means with predatory lending was hurting the people and the economy. It certainly wasn’t obvious in the news (except for Gretchen Morgensen’s articles in the NY Times). You would hear the stories about the foreclosures and you would hear a statistic but you couldn’t actually see the effect it was having at the neighborhood level. That is, unless you paid to access the foreclosure data and only then could you see it on a map. Of course I paid because I was obsessed with it. That was when it hit me. I had to show the crisis in map form to reveal what an affected neighborhood really looked like. It took me a few months to figure out how to show the maps as an art form. I had been dabbling in fabric for some time and my paintings had started looking like quilts (lots of gridded blocks). I had one of those ‘ah ha!’ moments when I could translate a neighborhood ‘block’ into quilt ‘block’. I had another big moment after I had made my first quilt (Las Vegas) and thought it looked too perfect and too clean. This was a messy situation and it needed to look that way.

So I started to sew my quilt blocks together in reverse with the seams showing. As the quilt is made, the edges fray and become tangled and ugly. And this is literally what has happened to our neighborhoods: decaying and abandoned houses, vacant lots covered over with weeds. Another thing I learned that I wasn’t able to show in my work was that the foreclosure data is collected differently in every city. It was being addressed as a local crisis. There really wasn’t an investigation at the federal level or any kind of intervention early on. I think they just hoped the cities would cope somehow on their own. And some cities did better than others.

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{D.C. Foreclosure Quilt detail}

Lisa: The quilt you made for the Smithsonian. Tell us about that Washington, D.C. foreclosure quilt specifically. Was it commissioned? What is it made out of? What was the process like for you? Is it your largest foreclosure quilt to date?

Kathryn: The D.C. Foreclosure quilt wasn’t officially commissioned as the Renwick gallery doesn’t do commissions. The gallery curators contacted me last year to purchase one of the existing quilts. I mentioned I would be happy to make a quilt of any area of their choice and they asked about making a quilt of a neighborhood in D.C. Finding the foreclosure data varies from city to city but the foreclosure data compilations on D.C. are practically nonexistent which completely shocked me. The data just wasn’t there! I did manage to find some compiled data on a few neighborhoods but they didn’t scream D.C. when you looked at them on a map. So the curators kept encouraging me to dig deep and do something monumental like, for example, the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

So I agreed and started researching and researching and researching. I was really freaked out that I’d come up empty handed but found if I went lot by lot (!) and compared the data through,, and DC Atlas Plus, I could go back ten years and see all of the sales history on every lot. It took weeks to coordinate the data and mark up a map! And those lots are narrow so you can fit quite a few on a block. My friends thought I was crazy to be so detailed. But you never know when someone who lives on a block will walk up and recognize their lot. Once I found the data and I knew I could make an impressive quilt of the Capitol Hill neighborhood (that was half the work!), we discussed fabrics and agreed on just the right shade of linen (of course I started to run low at the end and was panicking, lesson learned, always buy way more than you think you need). It is the biggest quilt I’ve made to date at 57 1/2 “ x 84”  and the hardest to piece because the ‘street’ angles needed to line up perfectly with the overall ‘street’ grid. Let’s just say fractions and geometry were never strong subjects for me in school, but I had to be exact with my measurements and plan for all of the seam allowances. I pulled my hair out more than a few times. By halfway through though, I had a system for piecing and it all just flowed from there. It’s all hand sewn as well I might add, just to add to my friends telling me that I was crazy.

Modesto Foreclosure Quilt

{Modesto Foreclosure Quilt}

Lisa: That is an amazing story!! You were very determined. What impact do you hope these foreclosure quilts have on the people who see them?

Kathryn: I made these quilts for people today and tomorrow. For the people who were directly affected, there is a feeling of shame and I feel that’s wrong. Most of the people who lived through the crisis were targeted with predatory lending. They had real hopes of living the ‘American Dream’. A little diversion here about that: I’m sure there were people who took advantage of the system but I really believe that the majority just didn’t know what they were getting into. You bought a house recently (congratulations!) and did you read your Truth and Lending statement they handed you before signing the papers? My husband did when we bought our house in 1998 and I can tell you he was fuming when we went in for the signing. We almost walked away. The paper they had handed to us didn’t match the Statement we had agreed to. They had changed the paperwork to their advantage. I’m guessing millions of other homeowners didn’t delicately read their documents when signing their papers or just didn’t understand the lending jargon. I also made the quilts for the people who are naysayers, the NIMBY’s who told everyone that there was no crisis in their neighborhood. Oftentimes, a foreclosure isn’t obvious from the street. It hit everywhere and spared no group of people.

Detroit Foreclosure Quilt KClark

{Detroit Foreclosure Quilt}

I also made these quilts for future generations. After all of my research (Alyssa Katz’s “Our Lot” is a fantastic place to start), I learned this was not the first foreclosure crisis we’ve had; we have forgotten the past. There was a huge foreclosure crisis in the 1930’s that coincided with the stock market crash but that history is dying along with the people who lived through it. The stories become buried in newspapers that are thrown aside or hidden away on microfiche. I wanted something that would be laid on a bed or hanging up on a wall in the future to tell a story about the past. Honestly, who could ask for a more appropriate place for these quilts to hang than in the Smithsonian?!

Cleveland Foreclosure Quilt KClark

{Cleveland Foreclosure Quilt}

Lisa: The Renwick at the Smithsonian is currently closed for renovations, yes? Tell us about when and where people can see your quilt once the gallery reopens.

Kathryn: The Renwick has a grand reopening planned for this November called “Wonder”. Afterwards, the new permanent collection will be on view starting in the summer 2016, exact date TBD. My quilt should be a part of that exhibition. I certainly will be at the opening!

Cleveland detail 02

{Detail of Cleveland Foreclosure Quilt}

Lisa: What are you working on now? Will the foreclosure project continue? Any goals for that project or new projects?

Kathryn: Well, it seems that the foreclosure crisis has mostly subsided somewhat (never say never though as I’m seeing a bubble happen all over again right now), so I’m focusing my attention on other projects. I’ve created a new website called where I design quilt block patterns that reflect what’s relevant in the world today. The block patterns will tell stories, just as traditional quilt patterns did years ago, but these are our contemporary stories: drought, racism, equality, revolution etc. I’m in the idea generating stage at the moment. One of these ideas will likely turn into another investigative project like the foreclosure quilts. It will depend on how the media handles the issue. If I feel like they’re not addressing the story well or misinterpreting the facts, I will feel the need to create a body of work around it.

Lisa: Thank you so much for tell your story, Kathryn! I am so inspired by everything you make and do.


Katy Ann Gilmore


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Every now and again I discover an artist’s work on the Internets, and I’m immediately blown away. My most recent mind explosion happened when I saw the work of Katy Ann Gilmore on Instagram. Like me, Katy Ann has a thing for micron and gel pens, and she uses them in most of her work; but Katy uses them in very different ways than I do. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone use them in the ways she does, even friends who are obsessive pattern drawers. I became so intrigued by her “one-dimensional-drawings-of mountains-that-look-three-dimensional” (or what I’ve come to call them), that I decided I had to know more, so I emailed her to see if I could interview her. Not only are her drawings impeccably rendered and mind-blowingly beautiful, I figured she also had to know a thing or two about how to play with dimension in space, which meant she had to be super smart. I was right.

Thankfully, she accepted my interview request. I present to you Katy Ann, the latest installment in my Interviews with People I Admire Series.


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Lisa: Katy, welcome to my blog! Tell us a little bit about you. Where did you grow up, what’s your background and how did you begin your career as an artist?

Katy: I’m originally from the Midwest (Indiana/Illinois) and moved out to LA about four years ago. I’ve always had an internal drive to create, and when I wanted to learn a new skill or technique, I would find someone to teach me or teach myself. Growing up, I learned woodworking from my mom, was always drawing/painting/making sculpture, and picked up sewing, knitting, and other fiber arts. I don’t think there has been a moment in my life where I haven’t been making something.

I was also really interested in mathematics, so that was pushed a bit more strongly as I entered high school as it was deemed more practical. I’m definitely happy to have studied mathematics as well as art, but the distinction between math and art, or metaphorically the practical and impractical, has been something I’ve worked to navigate. I went to a liberal arts undergrad, so that allowed me to study a few different subjects. This was a great decision for me, as opposed to an art specific school as I’ve always felt a bit more of a hybrid. I don’t see the two subjects as disparate and have worked to naturally communicate my love for both in what I make. I think the pieces have been there my entire life, I’ve just been working to put them together.

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Essentially, growing up, I knew I wanted to somehow live my life by just making things. I didn’t grow up in an environment where that was realistically encouraged because of that whole “practicality” issue. Moving to Southern California was certainly a key decision in pursuing what I love. I worked as an Admin Assistant and then Finance Coordinator for a few years while working on my MFA.

I finished my MFA last summer and kept working my 9 to 5, because that’s the practical thing to do. I think I was plagued by practicality and was a bit complacent, because working a regular 9 to 5 job is what you’re supposed to do, right?! I was practical and realistic even as a young kind, and if I could talk to little 10 year old Katy today, I’d say, “You’re tenacious. You can make things full-time. It will be hard, but you’ll figure it out.” I eventually quit my 9 to 5 last fall, without really intending to pursue art full-time, but I think my intrinsic desire to do so took over. I eventually let myself believe that it was possible, and I’m so thankful I did.


Lisa: Congratulations! Making the leap to full time art-making is not easy. I’m so excited for you!  Okay, so let’s jump straight into the juice here. I am super intrigued by your two-dimensional drawings, mostly because they look three dimensional! How did you begin making this kind of work? What is your process for making it? What is your medium? Pens only or are there other tools involved?

Katy: I started these type of two-dimensional drawings about four years ago. I’ve been drawing my entire life, but these grew out of desire for a change of pace after finishing undergrad. At the end of undergrad, I was painting on unprimed canvas, cutting it up, and sewing it back together, which I see big connections with in my current drawings. I wanted to simplify things a bit, work on technique and detail, and ultimately decided to focus on pen and paper for awhile. Also, drawing is just really convenient….I love the portability of it (at least when working on a smaller scale), and make my “studio space” in a few different locations. The drawings then started to be expressions of 3D work I would ultimately make during my MFA, and eventually become works in and of themselves. And, in the year since finishing my MFA, I’ve mainly focused on drawing.

I typically use Pigma Micron pens (usually size 005 for small drawings, and sizes 01 and 02 for larger ones). I’ve also been using watercolor, gouache (although I typically end up using the gouache in a wash-y way like watercolor), marker, or bottled ink. Depending upon the type of drawing, I may sketch a few things out, but I usually just let the drawing develop as it goes. This has been my method for the more topographical/mountain-y drawings. I love the mix of planned vs. unplanned parts in a piece. For these mountain pieces, if color is involved, I’ll sketch out the general idea in watercolor and lay the grid on top. But I welcome the little surprises that happen when drawing the grid. Parts of the drawing will recede, parts will come forward…so sometimes it becomes a bit of an intuitive and reactive process. That rigid/planned vs. unplanned/intuitive mix serves as a good metaphor for my interest in math and art I think.


Lisa: Inquiring minds want to know: how long does it take you to create one of these drawings? Does your hand hurt after awhile? How do you stay focused?

Katy: Small 5 in. by 7 in. drawings typically take a few hours. For an 11 in. by 14 in. drawing, it can take anywhere from 10-25 hours, and, honestly, I lose track on anything larger than that. I usually try to “clock-in” and “clock-out” when making larger drawings, but I haven’t been too diligent about that (and sometimes I don’t really want to know how long it takes, because it’s long.)

I think I’ve instilled a good amount of diligence in myself and am able to focus for long periods of time. When I was a kid working on a self-imposed art project, I’d be able to focus for hours, so I think that’s only increased with age. Sometimes I do feel stuck or in a rut with one particular drawing, so I’ll move to another. I’m usually working on 6 or 7 drawings at a time (all in different sizes), so that allows me to move to another drawing when I’m feeling frustrated with one. I think this is a good tactic because I don’t stop the flow of work. Instead of ceasing to work when feeling stuck, I move to another drawing and return to the original one later.

My hand does hurt a bit after marathon sessions, but never anything too crazy. I try to rest my eyes/hands/brain every once in awhile by looking away from the drawing, dropping the pen, and taking a breather. I know I hold my pen a bit strangely as I rest it heavily on my ring finger. In kindergarten, I remember teachers trying to correct this, but I think this strange pencil holding probably allows me to draw for longer periods of time. Hahahha. I think that’s the secret.


Lisa: Your Bachelor of Arts is in Art, Mathematics, Spanish. Talk more about the intersection between math and science and your work.

Katy: I think my love for mathematics extends to my general curiosities about the world, and art has been a way to communicate those questions visually. I think a lot about grids and organized representation of spaces, which is certainly inherently mathematical. A few years ago, I was thinking a lot about the negative space around objects and how that constantly fluctuated as physical objects like you or I moved about in space. This resulted in an installation called “The Shape of the Air“.

For my MFA thesis, I was again thinking about objects in space. I was researching phenomenology and experience in environments, and this led to an installation (again, based upon a grid) called “Matter and Void”. I was intrigued by the disconnect between our perception of the world as consisting of solid objects and the reality of the “empty space” (that doesn’t appear empty) in matter. It floored me (and still does) that we don’t see things as they actually are, only in the format permissible by light, which interprets these non-solid objects as solid. I was really intrigued by that concept, so I was thinking a lot about perceiving these tiny little particles interacting. I think that’s a theme in my work, whether 2D or 3D as tons of little parts coming together and repeating.

For my recent drawings, I’ve been thinking a lot about a 2D grids being warped/pulled in 3D space. Connected with that, I think a lot about calculus. A lot of it is just about slicing up 3D objects into an infinite amount of 2D slices, and I’ve been thinking about that with some recent drawings by slicing up topographical drawings to reveal 3D cross-sections.

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Lisa: Tell us more about planning versus creating as you go in your drawings.

Katy: I usually have a general idea but let the drawing develop and change as I go. I like that unexpected part of it and responding to the drawing as it develops.

I have made pieces that are a bit more precise and there isn’t as much room for responding to the drawing. I drew a series of Square Shift/Glitch pieces that are generally confined to a square, so they require planning and adherence to a particular format.


Lisa: What is the largest piece you’ve ever drawn? Any ideas to go even larger?

Katy: As far as drawing, the largest I’ve done outside of the formal education scene is 4′ x 5′. Oh, I definitely have plans to go larger!

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Lisa: Where can people find you on the internets?

Katy: Here’s a quick list:

Instagram: @katyanngilmore
Twitter: @katyanngilmore

Lisa: Thank you, Katy for taking the time to share your process! I have learned so much! Can’t wait to see what you do next.

Have a great Thursday, friends!


Julia Rothman // Nature Anatomy



Back in about 2006, when I was first starting out as an illustrator myself, I met & befriended another emerging illustrator named Julia Rothman. Julia had graduated from RISD a few years earlier and was back in New York (her home town) starting out in what has become a distinguished career as an internationally known illustrator. In the almost 10 years I have known Julia, she has published seven books and her now iconic drawing style has landed her work for such prestigious clients as Chronicle Books, Target, Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, Urban Outfitters, The Metropolitan Transit Authority, The Land of Nod, Kashi, Design*Sponge, Food and Wine, New York Magazine, Storey Publishing, and Victoria’s Secret.

I love everything Julia puts into the world, and I am especially smitten with her latest book, Nature Anatomy, part of her “anatomy” series, which includes Farm Anatomy and the upcoming Food Anatomy (more on that below). This book is a fantastic compendium of gorgeously illustrated bits of the natural world. Part personal interest project and part science anthology, Nature Anatomy is Julia’s tribute to the inner workings of the natural world that have fascinated her since she was a kid.

As part of my Interviews with People I Admire series, I sat down with Julia a few weeks ago to ask her all about this beautiful new book, how she made it, what inspired it, and what she’s up to next. Without further ado, Julia Rothman!


Lisa: Julia, I really loved Farm Anatomy when it came out, and I really, really love your new book Nature Anatomy too. Nature Anatomy seems so much bigger and denser than any of your previous books, which makes sense because nature is really an endless topic. How did you decide what to include and what not to include in the book so that it was just the right size?

Julia: Thanks, Lisa! It is dense. There are a lot of drawings in this book. Like Farm Anatomy, it’s 224 pages of paintings and mostly handwritten text. It was very hard to decide what to include because the topic is so broad. At first it was going to just be “Backyard Anatomy” because I was worried the topic was too big. But backyard was a word that could mean too many different things and might have been misleading as a title. In the end, the way I decided what nature should be included was anything you could find around you if you lived in the United States and went for a short walk. Which narrows it down only a tiny bit since there are so many kinds of landscapes, from grasslands to deserts to forests to beaches. I tried to include a few plants and animals from every area – some very common ones and others that are more obscure and interesting. It also came down to visually appealing things. Ultimately the book is filled with plants and animals I wanted to draw. I worked with a friend on this book who is a sort of naturalist, John Niekrasz. John helped me organize the content and we wound up adding in some of his favorite topics as well that I would have never thought of (like mycelium, the underground fungi network, and recipes from edibles collected in a forest).


Lisa: You grew up in New York City. Over the years, how did you develop an appreciation for nature and a passion for understanding the way the natural world works?

Julia: I grew up on a small island in the Bronx called City Island. It’s a strange place that most New Yorkers haven’t ever visited. While it feels like a small fishing town, it’s a quick subway ride to the middle of Manhattan. At the end of each block is a beach so I did spend summers swimming in the salty water and collecting shells. My parents were both teachers (they are retired now), and they were constantly trying to engage me in the natural world. We had a vegetable garden in our backyard and went camping every summer, usually in Maine. But I was more rebellious as I got older and preferred to be in the middle of the city hanging out with friends rather than hiking on a lake with them. Now that I’m getting older somehow the appreciation for those activities like quiet nature walks has developed. And I look forward to visiting my parents who still live in the same City Island house and hanging out by the water.


Lisa: Why did you turn that interest into a book? What do you hope people take away from reading it?

Julia: After I finished Farm Anatomy, which was such a huge undertaking, I felt relieved. I told everyone I would never do a project like that again. It was so much work and I had really stressed myself out struggling to draw and paint in those deadlines. Then the book came out and it felt so incredible. The response was so positive. I missed having a giant project I was totally engrossed in. I suddenly wanted to do it all again. I wound up doing another book about growing up in New York City (Hello NY) before deciding to do this book. I realized I did really enjoy doing big book projects even with all the anxiety that came with it. After talking to my publisher and Storey, we decided to make a series of “anatomy” books. I really wanted to do a nature book next because I had all this renewed love for the outdoors after the farm book. Also I just started running, and I live very close to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. I wanted to learn about all the trees I was jogging under and the names of the wildflowers I was passing by. When you get excited about something, you want to share it with others and this is a perfect medium. I am hoping this book will remind others to appreciate the outdoors around them as well even if it’s just a small park in a dense urban area.


Lisa: The research for the book must have been intense! How did your relationship with your writing partner John work?

Julia: The research part is always the best and the worst part. It’s daunting and overwhelming, but you learn so much. I bought so many Audubon field guides and books about nature. I bookmarked them all with stickies when I found interesting information or something I wanted to draw. Soon there were hundreds of yellow tabs sticking out stacks of books with no order all over my studio floor. Chaos! Once I brought John in on the project things got a bit more under control. He took over the writing part that was hard for me and I concentrated on the drawing and painting more. We worked on a shared Google document. I would add to it with notes “I just drew these sea birds. Can you find me some good facts about them?” and he would answer with a handful of amazing tidbits ready for me to insert in the pages. We had some very fun days together in person too, doing “research” by walking in the park. He forced me to eat a lot of plants I was sure a dog had peed on but it was a lot of fun. He kept me on schedule (as much as he could. I was always late!) and pretty much saved this project from becoming too much for me to handle.


Lisa: You’ve made several books, some with your own work, and some compilations of other artists’ work. The artwork and the lettering in the book (and all your books) are really stunning. How long did it take you to make the book from start to finish? What do you enjoy most about the process of making books? What do you enjoy least?

Julia: The art compilation books are amazing. I get to work with all the people I admire the most acting as a sort of art director. Funny, illustrator Cun Shi won an award from the Society of Illustrators for a piece he did for our book The Who, the What and the When this year, and, as a result, I got a medal for art direction. I’ve never won a medal for my own illustration but now I am an award winning art director. Ha! The group books are just hard to make because publishing is not a huge money maker, so we (I work with my ALSO partners on those usually) don’t have the means to pay all 100+ artists and writers fairly, or usually even at all. I’m so grateful to all those contributors and so glad that we were able to produce such collaborative books. We want to continue doing them, just under a different model so that everyone gets fairly compensated for their time. We just haven’t figured that model out yet.

Doing my own illustrated books like Farm Anatomy, Nature Anatomy and Hello NY take me about a year from start to finish. My art process is a bit convoluted since it start with drawing in pencil, then inking it with a pen. Then I scan that in and print it out at a very low transparency and paint it. Next I scan that back in and composite it all in the computer. I think that last step of combining the line art with the paint is my favorite part. I get to see all the paintings come together. It’s very satisfying. Also that day I get an advanced copy in the mail, holding the final finished book for the first time, my face hurts because I smile too much.


Lisa: What is your favorite section in the book and why?

Julia: Oh boy, it’s hard to pick. I like the spread on neighborhood creatures because I think the colors just all came together. The lake fish page as well, even though I could have painted those fish a little more detailed. I also really like the tree bark page because it was such a boring topic but the differences between the bark and the patterns they make was fascinating to me. I think the spread came out just okay, but I remember being really eager to draw it.


Lisa: What are you working on now?

Julia: The third anatomy book, Food Anatomy! Yay! A very general topic again. It’s going to cover a lot about where food comes from, dining traditions around the world, techniques for cooking, a few recipe. I’m very engaged in it right now. I’m in the research and drawing phase. It won’t be out until next year. Rachel Wharton, a wonderful food writer, is helping me, thankfully. Coincidentally, I am also illustrating a children’s book for food critic Joshua David Stein that also happens to be about eating obscure things. Leah Goren, Rachael Cole and I are also putting together a Ladies Drawing Night book which chronicles twelve nights of our weekly drawing sessions with instructions. Other than books, I have a new wallpaper collection coming out next month that I’m thrilled about and have been doing lots of editorial work for a handful of publications. It’s been a busy summer! The best way to be. Thanks so much for the lovely interview Lisa!

Lisa: Thank YOU, Julia! I have learned so many interesting facts today! Friends, you can find Julia’s stunning portfolio of work here, follow her on Instagram here, or purchase Nature Anatomy here or wherever books are sold.

Have a great weekend!


Heather Hardison // Homegrown



I am so excited today to share with you the work of fellow illustrator Heather Hardison. Heather is not only a fantastic artist, she’s a master hand-letterer, a sign painter, gardener cook, and a writer. She has recently published her first book, Homegrown: Illustrated Bites From Your Garden to Your Table, a gorgeously illustrated tribute to her experience with growing and eating her own food. Through her words and illustrations, Heather guides us through the process of planting, growing, harvesting, and preparing over  25 vegetables and small fruits and cooking them up into delicious meals. It also includes tips for stocking an unprocessed pantry, pickling, canning, and more!

I sat down with Heather a couple of weeks ago and asked her all about the process of creating this beautiful book, about her art practice (including her hand lettering and sign painting skills) and, of course, and about her own garden.

And without further ado, as part of my Interviews with People I Admire series, Heather Hardison!


Lisa: Tell us a little bit about you! Where do you live and how long have you been lettering and illustrating?

Heather: I live in South Berkeley, and my art studio is in North Oakland but I’m originally from North Carolina. I moved to the Bay Area 6 years ago after I finished college at NC State.  I’ve been freelancing as a illustrator and letterer for about 3 or 4 years, and sign painting at New Bohemia Signs for 5 years. I didn’t study illustration (I studied art & design), so it took a few years of doing personal projects and putting together a portfolio before I started getting regular freelance work.


Lisa: Your new book Homegrown: Illustrated Bites from Your Garden to Your Table is beautiful! Tell us about how this book came to be!

Heather: When I finished college and moved to the Bay Area, my first job here was working at a french restaurant in Berkeley.  I learned so much about cooking, and eating seasonally while I was working there.  There is SUCH a great food culture in the Bay Area that I’ve been incredibly influenced by. There are farmer’s markets on almost every day of the week, and some the world’s best grocery stores and food co-ops.


Even though I was having a great time working at the restaurant, I really wanted to keep up a creative practice. So in 2010 I started my illustrated food blog, Illustrated Bites, to share all the exciting stuff I was learning about food, but also to keep myself in the habit of drawing. After a year or two of blogging, my images started getting passed around and my blog started getting popular. My editor found my blog and approached me about doing a book proposal. She help me put it together, and in early 2013 Stewart, Tabori, and Chang (an imprint of Abrams) bought my proposal. From then it was GAME ON. I wrote, illustrated, hand lettered, and designed the layout of the book. It was very intense, but I had total creative control, which was a unique opportunity. I wrapped everything up in December 2014. It was a very busy 18 months.


Lisa: Wow, I can only imagine! I’m amazed at all the different aspects to the book, the infographics & facts, the explanations, the beautiful illustrations, the RECIPES! Let’s talk about the recipes for a moment. Did you write all the recipes? If so, what was that like? Do you have any cooking training?

Heather: I did write the recipes! They’re all very simple, vegetarian, and produce centric.  I learned a lot about cooking while I was working at the french restaurant, but I learned most of what I know about cooking on my own. I took a lot of random workshops and cooking classes, and did a lot of experiments at home.


Lisa: Did you find yourself doing lots of research as you made this book? There is really so much science in it!

Heather: Yes, I did A LOT of research. I very much enjoyed that part of the process. I read a lot, talked to experts. Watched documentaries, and cross referenced things to make sure I had the most accurate information.


Lisa: What was your favorite part about making this book?

Heather: Of course, I LOVED doing the illustration and and the lettering. It was my dream project in that regard, but I actually liked writing it a lot more than I thought I would. I don’t really think of myself as a writer, but I enjoyed the process so much and walked away a much better writer. I’m definitely interested in pursuing more writing projects like this in the future.


Lisa: Tell us about your own garden. What’s in it, and how much time do you spend there?

Heather:  Since I live in a dense urban area, my garden is a hodgepodge of green space that I’ve made for myself. My apartment doesn’t have a yard, so I’ve had to be creative! I took over the sad flower beds in front of the building and turned them into raised beds for veggies. I also have a large back porch that I’ve loaded up with container gardens.
I even have have a couple of beehives on my roof! My studio mate and I have a garden behind our studio that’s fairly large, and there’s also chickens.

I love spending about a half hour everyday in the garden, doing basic chores like watering or weeding. Once or twice a week I’ll spend a few hours to catch up on things like transplanting, fixing things, and harvesting. Early in the season there are always a few full days of work to get the beds ready for planting, and bringing in new compost.


Lisa: What is your favorite vegetable and way to cook it?

Heather: Asparagus is probably my favorite vegetable. I love tossing the spears in olive oil & salt then roasting or grilling them, then squeezing a little lemon juice on top. I’ve also been crazy about radishes this year. Slicing them super thin and using them in salads, in tacos, or just eating them with some olive oil and salt on toast.


Lisa: You are really a master letterer. Did you learn lettering in school where you studied art and design or are you a self taught letterer? Tell us about how you got so good.

Heather: I learned everything I know about lettering from working at New Bohemia Signs, a sign painting shop in San Francisco. I’ve been working there for 5 years. It takes a lot of practice to get good at brush lettering. Learning to draw letters was a matter of learning anatomy of type and typographic rules (and when to break them.)  I’ve spent a lot of time looking a letter forms, and after a while you start to internalize the proper proportions and develop your own sense of style.


Lisa: You are also an amazing sign painter. Tell us about how you got into sign painting and why it appeals to you.

Heather: I found sign paintings after I moved to the Bay Area. Walking around San Francisco, I couldn’t help but notice all the gorgeous hand painted signs. Once I figured out it was New Bohemia Signs who was making them, I immediately called to see if they would teach me. Lucky for me, Josh Luke was leaving to start his own shop in Boston, and they had room for an apprentice. I studied art & design in college, and I never quite understood what art & design really meant until I found sign painting. If you drew a Venn diagram of art, design, and craft, sign painting would be at the intersection of the three. In my experience, sign painters are all practically minded artists, who aren’t suited to sit a desk and that describes me perfectly.


Lisa: Who is your new book for? What kinds of people might be interested in purchasing it?

Heather:  I think anyone who loves illustration and wants to learn more about growing and cooking seasonal food would be interested in the book. It’s not a compendium on gardening and cooking; it’s more of a love letter.  Homegrown  is a marriage of all my skill sets and love for good food; it was really a passion project! I hope that comes across, and gets people excited about trying to grow some of their own food, and cook it too.


Lisa: What new projects are you working on now?

Heather: Currently, I’m doing a lot of personal projects to kind of suss out what I want to do next. The book was such a big project, that it put everything else on hold. So I’m taking the time to take stock and think about what direction I want to go in before momentum takes over. I’m working on a type mural, and some other lettering projects, as well as working on things like packaging for my honey. I’m also trying to enjoy the summer and go outside a lot, and swim and garden as much as possible; that feels really good. I have to stay balanced and engaged with my interests to stay creatively charged.

Lisa: I am so impressed with all that you do! Thank you for taking the time to share your work, process and book with us.

To keep up with what’s she’s doing, you can find Heather’s website here and her Instagram account here. You can buy Illustrated Bites here or anywhere books are sold.

Have a great Thursday, friends!


Sam Kalda



Last year, when I was on my Art Inc book tour, I made a stop at the Powerhouse Arena in Dumbo, Brooklyn for a Q&A with my friend Grace Bonney, followed by a book signing. Usually when I sign books on my tours, especially on my Art Inc tour, the attendees tend to be fellow artists, many starting out, and others hoping to recharge their careers. I like to say hello to people and chat for a few minutes with each person. Sometimes I remember the people whose books I sign, often because they tell me their names (and somehow I remember them), but mostly because they hand me their card. I can’t remember if Sam Kalda gave me his card or I simply remembered his name that night at Powerhouse Arena, but what I do remember is that I looked him up the next day, as I often do when I meet people, and was blown away by his work. I started following him on Instagram and am continually impressed by his illustrations.

Sam, who you’ll get to know a little bit here, and who is still relatively new to the illustration scene, already works for an impressive roster of clients like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Pentagram, West Elm, Buzzfeed, Ebony, WWD, Groundwood Books, The New Republic, The Boston Globe, Wired, ASOS, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Johns Hopkins University, among many others. I love the mixture of clean and modern in his work with warm, textured and colorful details.

Today’s interview in my Interviews with People I Admire series, I present to you illustrator and cat fancier, Sam Kalda!



Lisa: You are a self described cat fancier! Before we get into talking about your work, let’s break that down. What’s a cat fancier? How is being a cat fancier reflected in your daily life?

Sam: Fancier is a fancy word for appreciator. I’ve always been a cat person and, as a subject matter, cats have been something people have really gravitated towards in my work. On a day to day level, being a cat fancier means taking care of a sweet but demanding house cat.


Lisa: You are from South Dakota! I have never met anyone in my 47 years from South Dakota. Tell me what it’s like there.

Sam: That’s not an uncommon response! I’d like to think it makes us South Dakotans rare like some kind of exotic bird. While it varies quite a bit where you are from in the state (we take the Missouri river divide quite seriously), I’m from Sioux Falls, which is the biggest city in SD. It sounds a little generic, but it’s a great place to grow up. I’m gay and live in New York now, so often times people assume a default narrative about needing to escape a restrictive environment and discover myself in a big city, yadayada. Basically like Jo from Little Women. But I really love being from South Dakota. I feel there’s a certain laid back level-headedness and strong work ethic that I’m thankful for.


Lisa: When did you know you wanted to be an artist? How did you decide to make your way to SUNY Purchase?

Sam: I’ve always loved to draw—it’s just been a thing that I did and was known for doing since I was a kid. I’m fortunate in that my parents were (and are) very supportive of my creative pursuits. My parents both work in the medical field, but they both are very creative in their hobbies (wood working, quilting, needlepoint, mold making, etc.), so there was always an importance placed on working with your hands. Regarding college, I actually picked SUNY Purchase sight unseen. I wanted an art school in a small liberal arts college environment that was affordable and close to NYC. Purchase checked all the boxes.


Lisa: You started off studying painting, got your MFA at FIT and now you’re an illustrator. Talk about how one thing led to the next and the connections between all of those things.

Sam: I went from studying oil painting in early undergrad to making sculptures and installation work near the end of college. For a year after school, I helped a friend on a documentary about artist-led AIDS activism in NYC in the 80s and early 90s. After deciding film was not the path for me, I began working on a picture book idea I’d had for a number of years. In the process of making the book—and being thoroughly overwhelmed by the process—I was accepted into the MFA program at FIT. I made the decision to go back to school kind of impulsively, but it really changed my career. 

I’m not sure if there’s a direct connection between all those things!  I think what interests me in a broad sense is visual storytelling, be it through a book, movie, or painting. Illustration is a great cross section of many disciplines.


Lisa: Obviously some of your work is hand painted. But some of your work appears to be digital? Describe your process. Do you start by drawing by hand? Do you work in illustrator? Give us the info.

Sam: I always sketch with a pencil. If it’s an editorial job with a tight deadline, I work digitally. Typically, I digitally paint the background in Photoshop, using the pencil sketch as a reference. From there, I add scanned in pencil drawings, paint textures and whatever else I’m feeling for the piece. It’s a hybrid of digital painting and hand-drawing. For my personal work, I usually either paint with ink on Bristol board, or with acrylics on wooden panels. I really see the technique as a means to an end and I like switching up the way I work from time to time.


Lisa: You do lots of editorial illustration. I am amazed at people who do lots of it because it requires a lot of skill in problem solving, thinking outside the box & concepting ideas, not to mention short deadlines. Why do you enjoy it? What draws you to it?

Sam: I like the fact that I never know what to expect. Also, there’s a certain high you get after completing a piece on a short deadline that can be addictive. That being said, there’s always panic in the concept phase!

I think editorial illustration demands a certain level of organization, preparation and focus that has bled into my own studio practice. So many of these qualities don’t come naturally to artists—myself most certainly included. Thankfully, these things can be learned through practice.


Lisa: Who/what are your most treasured inspirations and why?

Sam: I’ll just do a quick, stream of consciousness list: Edward Bawden, Maira Kalman, Peewee’s Playhouse, vintage picture books, Memphis design, Wiener Werkstätte postcards, Bloomsbury/Omega workshop interiors, midcentury furniture, collecting chairs, brass menageries, art deco posters, well-curated bookshelves, old interior design magazines, Will Barnet, patterned rugs. I think I should make a list like this monthly to see how my interests both evolve and stay the same over time.


Lisa: You are quite a fabulously recognized young illustrator and your client list is very impressive. Your talent is clear, but you are obviously ALSO a hard worker. Have you always been a hustler or is that something you’ve learned as you’ve gotten older or entered the profession?

Sam: Thank you! I definitely feel that I’ve learned to hustle and be organized as I got older. Like I touched on earlier, I had to work a lot on my time-management habits and organization. Before becoming a full-time illustrator, I worked for a museum in the design retail department for a number of years. I learned a tremendous amount about being professional and a good deal about basic business practices. That was as important as my illustration training to my career now. For whatever reason, I’ve always enjoyed the hunt of finding new work, tracking down art directors, and submitting my work to blogs, competitions, etc.

As a kid, I wasn’t a very serious student and never really saw myself as a “hard worker” in school—-it just wasn’t my thing.  But when it came to creative pursuits (art-making, drumming, high school theater) I really could go into a kind of hyper-focus. Near the end of high school and into college, I really started to take art-making and education seriously. I’ve slowly been trying to tame my inner couch potato ever since.


Lisa: One piece of advice you’d give to a young aspiring illustrator trying to make it.

Sam: There are so many platitudes to choose from! Honestly, the most useful advice I was ever given was by my thesis adviser in college: You have to make work for yourself before you can make it for anyone else. Stay engaged, discover things that inspire you, and don’t fear experimentation or change. Oh, and write polite, personalized emails without insane punctuation!


Lisa: Where can people find you on the Internets?

instagram: sam_kalda
twitter: sam_kalda
etsy: SamKaldaStore
and my agency:

Lisa: Thank you, Sam! You are awesome. <3


Monika Forsberg



If you don’t already know the work of London-based, Swedish-born illustrator Monika Forsberg, today is your lucky day. I am thrilled to include Monika as the latest subject in my Interviews with People I Admire series. I first became acquainted with Monika’s work a couple years ago and fell instantly in love. Over the last two years, she has continued to wow the illustration community and scores of new fans with her combination of boldly colorful, super quirky illustrations, hand lettering and animations. I was lucky enough to meet Monika in person last month in New York, where we were both attending Surtex, and she’s as lovely in person as she is on the Internets. Without further ado, I present to you an interview with Monika, in which we discuss her background (including her thoughts on her home country of Sweden), her process and other fun facts.


Lisa: Monika, I am such a huge fan of everything you do! Tell my readers a little bit about you. Where did you grow up? Did your childhood/early years have an influence on your style of artwork or creative endeavors over the years?

Monika: Thank you so much, Lisa! I grew up in Lulea which is a seaside town in the very north of Sweden. I remember snow, summer, sea, sand, trees and all the smells and a very slow pace, there was so much space for boredom. I still get that feeling in Sweden. Its the most beautiful place on earth but everything is already ordered and put in its right place and it’s so good you shouldn’t touch it. Nothing can beat the tender bright bright colours of the skies in my home town or the smell of pine forest in late summer when the mosquitos have died.

As children, my friend and I were obsessed with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and the Mississippi river (of our imagination). We ran around our neighborhood, and I WAS Huck, and I didn’t pretend I was him but I actually WAS him.

As an adult when I am in Sweden, I just sit there (in the afternoon sun or at the kitchen table looking out at the forest through the triple glazed windows) and don’t know how to grasp it or get my rhythm to fall into synch with that tranquility and perfection. My kids love Sweden. It’s a sunshiny place. And Morfar (their granddad) makes fantastic pancakes and always has home made apple juice in the fridge.

I moved to England when I was in my early 20’s, and in London everything is like a crazy person’s idea of structure. There’s a disobedience and idiosyncrasy that, when I first came here, I found liberating, bewildering and rather difficult. Now I love that there’s always 569 things on the to do list (or the house will fall apart) and that nothing is perfect and so if I experiment it doesn’t matter. Nothing is perfect so I can make a mess.

My mum is a huge influence in my work. She had a great eye for style, color and was always making things. We always came to blows when she tried to teach me things because we annoyed each other (so much). I have memories of me sitting under the kitchen table, angry, cutting things up and being sad. Even though we clashed, I learned most of what I know today from her. It wasn’t from the things she consciously taught me but from the things I observed her doing, from just being with her. And she was the best person in the world to hug.  I’m not sure if that makes sense, Lisa?


Lisa: It does! Our relationships with our mothers are so interesting! So tell us, before becoming an official “illustrator” in the last few years, you had a varied creative path. Start from when you were a teenager to where you are now. What was your path like?

Monika: I was a really embarrassing teenager. Cringe worthily so. You know; bad poetry, painful shyness and generally reveling in being misunderstood (how can anyone understand you when you’re too shy to speak and when you do actually speak you make no sense?). I was really childish, a late bloomer and everything in my head was a bit like grey porrige. I watched “Pretty in Pink” “The Breakfast Club” and “My Life as a Dog,”  thinking THAT is what life should be like. I’m still all of these things, come to think of it.

My friend’s dad was really into photography, and I discovered Anders Petersen’s work as a teenager when leafing through a photography magazine at their house. He photographed real life. Told stories. I quit normal school and enrolled at a photography school which had mixed aged students, and there I found my kind of world and a way to communicate that made sense. It was heaven.

The downside was that I’m an introverted shy person so photographing people all day long (as I didn’t have the patience to photograph still objects) was REALLY HARD WORK. So I moved to England to study art instead with the intention to become a textile designer. I found animation instead. And learned a new language.

I worried up until about 2 years ago that I had nothing interesting to say and that my art was boring but at the age of 39, I embraced that being rather boring is okay and that it is fine to draw little things without any big meanings.


Lisa: To me, your work is the opposite of boring. In fact, your work has a very distinct style. What mediums do you work in? Does your work start by hand or do you render everything digitally? Or is it a combination?

Monika: I do as little work by the computer as possible. So the starting point is always pen, paint and paper sitting on my bed, whilst listening to audio books or radio documentaries. When I have a big enough pile of drawings I scan it all in and maybe use a third of it for whichever picture/project I’m working on. So there’s a lot of spillage. I use Photoshop to assemble the pictures and to enhance and remove and add little bits n bobs. I worked with Leigh Hodgkinson, the picture book author/artist, to teach me Photoshop and After Effects back in  2003 when I was making an animation for telly (and I knew nothing about computers back then), and I still use the 3-4 basic things she taught me and not much else.

I love how all creatives seem to use these programs completely differently. I tried using Adobe Illustrator once but it did my head in. I think using technology sparingly is the key. Or things turn into epic cgi monsters, which is fine if you like that sort of thing (but I don’t). How do you approach your work, Lisa?


Lisa: My process is similar! Everything starts by hand (pen, paint, pencil) but ends up getting scanned and then “cleaned up,” moved around and arranged in Photoshop. I am self taught except (like you) for some Photoshop lessons I got from someone back in 2008, so I use the same 6 processes in Photoshop and not much else. There might be a faster, easier way to do what I do, but I have no idea. Next, let’s talk about your animations. How is the process of animation the same or different from still illustration?

Monika: It’s pretty much the same, just not as detailed. You can make 36 half decent pictures that are nothing special, but if you put them together you’ve got a three second little animation (and things move and looks pretty amazing). Animation is like a non consistent repetition. A forever changing repeat. I love repetition and find it comforting, but, at the same time, it really bores me to death. So animation is kind of perfect. You stay safe by drawing almost the same thing yet you get to make variations on a theme. Restlessness mixed with a compulsion to repeat oneself? When animating I often draw actions backwards (as it is easier to in my mind work out how a movement breaks down if i start at the end of it). Animation is great because you can make ANYTHING happen. A chicken can turn into an exploding whale in matter of seconds (and no actual animals will be harmed in the process).


Lisa: There is very much an element of “silly” in your illustrations (and even your website). I mean that in the best way — your sense of humor really comes through. Do you consider yourself a silly person? Where does that come from?

Monika: I am really silly, and I am really happy. I love playing with words and I love banter and being silly. I think sometimes I might come across as a bit serious (until I start speaking), but it’s much more fun to laugh and have fun, although I’m a massive crier too. I cry at everything. And I have my moody days and I get angry. I sometimes feel a bit too much.


Lisa: You break a lot of drawing and painting “rules” in terms of color, proportion, etc. This is what makes your work so unique and amazingly wonky. Is that an intentional choice or a result of something else?

Monika: My intentions are always really serious. I start things off deeply concentrated and in hyper realistic frame of mind and then about 1/3 into the drawing I lose concentration and get a new idea (or idea of a joke), and I go along with that impulse, and then I spend the last third of the picture trying to bring it back to the beginning or towards a third impulse. I guess this makes things a bit wonky. Also I love feeling the rhythm of things and my rhythm is totally unhinged. I was a terrible cello player when I was younger as I had my own rhythm (unless I played in an orchestra, then I could follow and assimilate to the general rhythm of things).

So when cutting things out I tend to cut in a fast-paced rhythm when going through curves and then slow down at details, but to generally keep a very fast pace, to not get stuck in the detail of things or the fear of not getting things right. If I do things too slowly I lose the thread. Maybe a bit like downhill skiing?

When I assemble things in the computer I am trying to learn to make interesting compositions, that’ll make your eyes dance around and move back and forth (without getting dizzy). It is the same thing with choices of color. It almost always get out of hand. I admire people who chose color palettes and stick to them. I start with a base color and then put somethings that complements it but then I just have to stick on something else, I think: “Ohh, this color likes that color (even if they shouldn’t ),” and it becomes little stories in itself which leads onto something other color wise. Then I have to try bring it all together in the end. I find blue a really difficult color to deal with. Do you feel like that about any colors?


Lisa: Oh gosh, I hate working with purples. I avoid them quite a bit! So, inquiring minds are dying to know: where is WALKYLAND? What’s it like there?

Monika: One day my eldest son and I came up with Walkyland as a joke about something and I realized it was a great name that captured what I wanted to do, be and live. The only problem was that I had no work that fit my idea of Walkyland (a colorful green floral jungle full of strange creatures and happiness). I had no idea how to go about it as at that time I only did realistic black ink line drawings of people at the lido (outdoor swimming pool) here in London. I had no idea how to use colors or how to use my imagination. When I was a child we always drew with marker pens, and so when tackling the task of learning how to use colors I used that as a starting point because it was something I felt comfortable with.


Lisa: What is your favorite way to spend the day?

Monika: With my kids, with my boyfriend, with my friends or all alone. At the cinema, in a cold lake, in the kitchen, on a bus or at the sidelines of my sons football match. Slouching on the sofa. Cooking, drawing, laughing, watching, being. Going to Paperchase on a Saturday afternoon with my youngest son and eating cakes. Pubs and picnics. COFFEE. Talking about all things big and small whilst swimming with my friend. Drawing whilst watching films. Dancing in the kitchen with my boyfriend as lunch is on the stove. Drawing and bantering with my office mate Matt Littler. Sleeping. Holding hands.

Lisa: What is your current dream job or client?

Monika:  l love working on commissions. I love the dialogue and the mixing of ideas and concepts between clients and myself. Collaborations. I been very lucky so far in my short illustration career to have only worked with fantastic people. Right now I’m working on some crazy butterflies for Eeboo. They are such fun people and they make work feel like play. If I could make a wish list; In the future I’d love to work on some book projects and editorials as I done very little of this.

Harvey Weinstein once wanted to meet up (well his people wanted to meet my people), but my people said unless they had a good selection of biscuits at the meeting it was a no. I think they didn’t get the joke and/or find it funny and the meeting never happened. But if he ever changes his mind  I’d love to make a ridiculously good film together with Harvs.

And we can forget about the cookie clause.

And it’d be awesome to one day do a little collaboration with you Lisa!


Lisa: Yes!! I’d love that! Tell, us, where can people find you on the Internets?



Lisa: Big Thank you to MONIKA for hanging out here on the blog today! I hope you have enjoyed her as much as I have.

Have a great Tuesday, friends!


Courtney Cerruti // Playing With Surface Design


PlayingwithSurfaceDesign A few years ago, I met artist, curator, author & teacher, Courtney Cerruti. Courtney works for Creativebug and helped to concept and produce all of my classes there (including my two best-selling Basic Line Drawing and Sketchbook Explorations classes). Courtney has become one of my most treasured friends. I am perpetually in awe of her prolific creative energy and free spirit. Courtney and I also share a longtime love of neon colors. Courtney has published several books (one which I wrote about here) and her latest is my new favorite. It’s called Playing with Surface Design, and it’s a book of surface design projects, including projects for creating wrapping paper, ribbon, lampshades, garlands, plates and more. Each project is fully photographed and includes step by step instructions. Last week, I sat down with Courtney to talk about this gorgeous new book. I’m also sharing here photos of some projects from the book, all styled by Courtney and photographed by Liz Daly (except the one above, which was taken by me). I hope you enjoy this latest in my Interviews with People I Admire!


Lisa: What inspired this particular book?

Courtney: I wanted to make a book that showed traditional printmaking techniques with a fresh and contemporary look and feel. I’ve added neons, metallics and indigos to the color palette overall and made specific tweaks to some of the processes like marbling, paste papers and monoprinting so that they better fit into the craft and DIY world we all know and love today. I’ve also thrown in some favorite painting and stamping methods to cover designs for all surfaces.


Lisa: You have several amazing and beautiful project-based books under your belt. Tell us about what it’s like to make books like this. What inspires you to share techniques with other people?

Courtney: Every book I’ve written came from my current passion/obsession. In addition to wanting to share a process or project that I love to make, most of the projects are ones I teach in my in-person and online workshops. The books aim to inspire people as well as teach successful methods for making. I want people to pick up any one of my books and learn a better way to make an image transfer, a monoprint, a book, etc., and to feel proud about learning a new skill AND smitten because they made something beautiful too.
Lisa: That is a great feeling! To learn something new and make something beautiful. What is your favorite project in the book and why?

Courtney: OOOH, so hard! I think my favorite might be the Bold Botanical Prints because its evokes the feeling of cyanotypes with the addition of neon. Its also more accessible and less expensive than the cyanotype process. Best of all, the printing surface is an actual slab of gelatin, as in Jell-o, which is just plain awesome.

Lisa: When you come up with an idea for a project for one of your books, does it always go as you planned? Or do you end up scrapping some of them and trying other techniques? Tell us about this process of risk-taking and experimentation.

Courtney: The process of making a book is ever-evolving. Although I come up with an initial list of projects, they change and shift, because I become inspired by something new as I work. Delving deep into any method allows for moments of discovery and that in turn causes me to add projects and strike others as I become more or less inspired by a certain aspect of the process. Luckily I worked with a great photographer, Liz Daly, and a great Editor, Jonathan Simkosky at Quarry, who were both flexible along the way.


Lisa: When a project you’ve imagined and then try comes out beautifully, what does that feel like?

Courtney: A successful project feels like falling in love, like what you expected and at the same time like a tiny miracle. The processes I love — and most often use and teach — all have an element of unexpectedness, which is why I think they’ve kept me interested and engaged for years.


Lisa: There is a gallery in the back of the book of artists who do surface design, in which I am so honored to by included. Besides the artists in the book, who are some of your favorite surface designers today?

Courtney: Helen Dealtry, Chris Schmidt of Yellow Owl Workshop, Naomi Ito of Nani Iro, Kindah Khalidy, Llew Mejia, Kitty McCall, and fabric and work from the studios of Mara Mi, Marimekko, and Liberty of London just to name a few.

You can find Courtney’s website here and follow her on Instagram here. You can purchase Courtney’s new book here or wherever books are sold. Did you make something from the book? Tag it #PlayingWithSurfaceDesign to share with others. Thank you Courtney for this inspiring interview. I hope everyone has a great Monday!